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'Rookie' ex-Wallabies skipper set for sevens debut

Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS

The Olympics is the dream but Michael Hooper concedes he still has a mountain to climb to make it to Paris, even after earning a first-time call-up into the Australian rugby sevens team.

The record-breaking former Wallabies captain will make his long-awaited sevens debut in Hong Kong from April 5-7 after being named in a 13-player squad for the sixth round of the world series.

Overlooked for last year's 15-man World Cup, the champion flanker committed to the code's Olympic sibling in November with the hope of playing at the Paris Games in July.

He is even already planning to make it to the opening ceremony on a day off either side of the jam-packed Olympic sevens program.

But having experienced a first-hand reality check on how gruelling the modified version of rugby is, Hooper knows he is in a race against the clock to make the final squad.

An Achilles injury has delayed Hooper's first appearance in the high-octane code, leaving the 32-year-old only three tournaments to secure a spot.

"In terms of getting fit on the field, it's It's quite a shift to what I expected in terms of the physicality needed to to play this game and I'm not there yet," Hooper said on Thursday.

"This is going to be a big step forward, entering the field and playing. It's a different world."

Asked what fans could expect from him, Hooper, Australia's only ever four-time John Eales Medallist, candidly said: "Good question, mate."

"Look, I am not the fastest, not the fittest. So it doesn't start well, does it?

"But I'll give it an absolute shake. I'm going to find out. I'm going to learn as much as anyone when I actually hit the field and see what I can do."

The Hong Kong baptism of fire shapes as somewhat of a litmus test for Hooper on his journey, hopefully, to Paris in July.

"I'll know if I make that journey when the squad's picked," he said.

"To think I'm a finished product after Hong Kong, I think I'd probably be applying too much pressure on myself, unfairly."

Australian coach John Manenti was excited to see Hooper back in a gold jumper.

"Hoops has worked hard to make his way into the squad, and we're all delighted to welcome the 'rookie' into the mix," Manenti said.

"Like any new player, it will be a learning experience for him, and an important start point to a potential Paris Olympics."

Hooper's inclusion is one of two changes for Australia, with Maurice Longbottom returning from a calf injury.

"We're really excited about heading back to Hong Kong, where we have had some recent success," Manenti said.

"Our performances in LA were some of our best this season and we have the opportunity to be better again next week."

Australia sit fifth in the men's overall standings, which are led by Argentina.