Michael Hooper cops fresh setback as Olympic rugby sevens dream goes up in smoke

Hooper has been ruled out of the Spanish world-series rugby sevens final.

Michael Hooper has been dealt a cruel blow in his bid to receive an Olympics rugby sevens call-up, with an injury robbing the former Wallabies captain of his final chances to impress. Australia's most-capped rugby captain of all time jumped to sevens after he was controversially left out of Eddie Jones' squad for Australia's disastrous Rugby World Cup campaign in France.

Following that disappointment, Hooper joined Australia's rugby sevens squad in a bid to cap his glittering career with an Olympic gold medal. But after featuring in the Singapore and Hong Kong world series legs for Australia, Hooper was one of four players ruled out of the Madrid top-eight 'grand final' from May 31 through injury.

Pictured Michael Hooper
Michael Hooper has been ruled out of the Spanish world-series rugby sevens final. Image: Getty

Calf and achilles niggles have already hampered Hooper's sevens transition and the 32-year-old is now having to deal with a recurrence of pubic-bone inflammation. The injury ultimately forced coach John Manenti to hold him back from the Spanish world-series finale and if Hooper is now to earn a spot in Paris he will have to do so by impressing on the training ground. "He's had a flare-up," Manenti told AAP.

"It just needs to settle it before it deteriorates ... (he's) still in the frame and doing everything he can to make the Olympics." The Australian sevens outfit finished fourth in the world-series rankings to qualify for the Madrid showpiece ahead of the Olympics in July-August. "We head into the world-series final excited about the new format and our first trip to Madrid," Manenti said.

Australia's Michael Hooper scores a try during the men's group match between Australia and Canada of the HSBC Rugby Sevens Singapore tournament at the National Stadium in Singapore on May 3, 2024. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Hooper was controversially left out Australia's disastrous Rugby World Cup campaign in France and decided to make the switch to sevens.

"The team has prepared well and are keen to have a crack at the best teams on the circuit. Our pool is as tough as ever, with league champions Argentina, France and Great Britain."

Hooper captained Australia in rugby union on a record 69 occasions, overtaking the previous record held by George Gregan (59). He is also a seven-time winner of the Matthew Burke Cup (2013-17, 2019-20) for the NSW Waratahs’ player of the year and his decision to shift to sevens came as somewhat of a shock. However, Hooper said earlier this year that he is excited by the challenge to make it in the sevens format.

"The transition is something I have thought a lot about and I'm extremely motivated by the challenge of playing sevens and trying to earn my way into this team," Hooper said in a Rugby Australia statement. "I've started making a few changes to my training in preparation and can't wait to get started.

"I'd like to thank John Manenti (the Australian men's sevens coach) and Scott Bowen (the national performance manager for sevens) for the opportunity to join the program." Manenti previously hailed Hooper as an "outstanding rugby player and a great leader" and said he was "thrilled to have him join our program".

"We know he's got a strong skillset for sevens and a big engine and we're looking forward to helping him transition quickly to the format," Manetti said. "He is a player with big-game experience and to have someone like Michael in our set-up can be a point of difference for us."

with AAP