No rest for Michael Hooper in 2017

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

He played all but half an hour of Super Rugby in 2016 and Waratahs captain Michael Hooper expects much of the same this season.

Hooper will lead the Waratahs for the second year in a row, heading a new-look leadership voted on by the players, and said he was refreshed after a heavy 2016 workload.

Michael Hooper at the Super Rugby launch. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley“I want to play every minute it's where you have the most fun,” he said.

“You don't want to be sitting on the sideline - done that the past two weeks and it sucks.

“I want to play as much as I can - the body's in good shape, I’m working hard at trying to get my stuff sorted, getting a bit older now, a bit more creaks in the morning. - Michael Hooper

“Loving it, loving the new challenge and I’m really invigorated by the guys around me.”

The Waratahs will usher in a new generation this season and Hooper is expecting big things from his backrow teammates, with the departure of Dave Dennis last season.

Michael Hooper wants to play as much footy as possible. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyA hamstring injury will keep Jed Holloway out of the side until round two but Hooper said there was plenty of talent underneath him.

“We really need those guys to step up and got a lot of confidence in those guys to do the job and step up, your Jack Dempseys - he's been very impressive this preseason and on the (Wallabies Spring) tour last year,” he said.

“What he has done around training, Jed (Holloway) put his stamp on the competition a little bit last year, looking for him to do more and then there's guys under that Michael Wells, Brad Wilkin, all impressive.

“It's tough going for spots, it's never easy and I don’t  even know what Daryl's going to go on Thursday, let alone the season."

The Waratahs host the Force in their opening Super Rugby clash on February 25, and Hooper hopes former teammate Tatafu Polota-Nau receives a warm reception from Sydney fans.

“What he's done in the Waratah jersey's been nothing short of brilliant, so it must be weird for him suiting up in a different change room and running out round one but I look forward to seeing him there and I'm sure he'll get a good welcome,” he said.Tatafu Polota-Nau deserves a warm Waratahs welcome. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley

“Not sure that the west has changed him at all, he's still as weird as ever. I’m looking forward to seeing him round one.”

The Waratahs play the Highlanders on Thursday night in their last trial, before their February 25 Super Rugby opener.

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