Nick Phipps will line up at starting nine for the first time since round four, when the Waratahs take on the Reds.
Phipps has been picked over Jake Gordon to come back into the run-on team, with the latter left out of the 23 altogether, and Matt Lucas coming onto the bench.
"No one was angrier (than him) when he missed out on a couple of opportunities to start," he said.
"We're really happy with the energy he's brought when he was on the bench and then particularly now coming into the team, he's been fantastic and a credit to his work ethic and attitude to get back into a starting side."
Phipps' desperation is a handy quality for a Waratahs side that has been questioning its motivation in recent weeks and Hooper said it would be a timely return for his long-time teammate.
"He was fantastic against the Reds last year, loves starting and loves playing against the Reds each time he's had that opportunity so just happy for nIck and now he needs to deliver for the rest of the team."
Attack coach Chris Malone said Phipps' return was a sign of the heated competition in the nine spot, which has been up for grabs all year.
"I think it's about opportunity and pushing one another and everyone keeping each other on their toes," he said.
"There's no doubt that Nick brings a style and a speed to our game. He's an international player and he loves playing for New South Wales, just as Jake does, just as 'Bluey' (Lucas) does."
Daryl Gibson's changes haven't stopped at halfback, with Dean Mumm teaming up with Dave McDuling in the second row, and Will Skelton dropping to the bench after a run of mediocre form.
Sekope Kepu adds a major boost to an inconsistent Waratahs scrum that battled in the 26-24 loss to the Kings, returning from suspension.
Rookie tighthead David Lolohea has been left out of the matchday squad, along with young winger Harry Jones, with Paddy Ryan shifting to the bench and Irae Simone returning to the squad.
Hooker Tolu Latu will miss with a shoulder injury suffered against the Kings last weekend, with Hugh Roach earning his first start.
Waratahs team to face the Reds
IN: Sekope Kepu, Matt Lucas, Irae Simone, Damien Fitzpatrick
OUT: Jake Gordon, Dave Lolohea, Harry Jones, Tolu Latu (shoulder)
1. Tom Robertson
2. Hugh Roach
3. Sekope Kepu
4. David McDuling
5. Dean Mumm
6. Ned Hanigan
7. Michael Hooper
8. Michael Wells
9. Nick Phipps
10. Bernard Foley
11. Cam Clark
12. David Horwitz
13. Rob Horne
14. Taqele Naiyaravoro
15. Israel Folau
16. Damien Fitzpatrick
17. Paddy Ryan
18. Angus Taavao
19. Will Skelton
20. Jed Holloway
21. Matt Lucas
22. Irae Simone
23. Bryce Hegarty