Hobbled Hooper in Games doubt after sevens omission

Darren Walton and Murray Wenzel |

Michael Hooper is all but out of the Australian men’s sevens team to compete at the Paris Games.
Michael Hooper is all but out of the Australian men’s sevens team to compete at the Paris Games.

Michael Hooper remains in the frame for an Olympics rugby sevens call-up despite injury robbing the former Wallabies captain of one final Paris audition.

After featuring in the Singapore and Hong Kong world series legs for Australia, an injured Hooper was one of four team changes confirmed on Friday for the Madrid top-eight ‘grand final’ from May 31.

Calf and achilles niggles had already hampered Hooper’s sevens transition since his controversial snubbing from last year’s 15-man World Cup in France.

The 32-year-old is now managing a recurrence of pubic-bone inflammation, forcing coach John Manenti to hold him back from the Spanish world-series finale.

Instead, Hooper will have to prove himself in training camp to book his ticket to Paris.

“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.”

Tim Clements, Josh Turner, Dally Bird and Matt Gonzalez return to the squad as James McGregor, Teddy Wilson and Henry Palmer dropped out along with Hooper. Maurice Longbottom remains sidelined by injury.

Manenti’s side 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.

“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.”

Charlotte Caslick returns from injury for Australia’s final sevens campaign before the Paris Games. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

Sevens legend Charlotte Caslick headlines a galaxy of stars set to return to the Australian women’s team after missing the Singapore round with niggling injuries.

Caslick’s comeback is a major boost for Tim Walsh’s second-ranked side following season-ending knee injuries to Madison Ashby and Lily Dick in Singapore.

Young gun Bienne Terita has also been included after missing the last tournament through injury, while Sharni Smale remains sidelined following surgery.

“The journey continues and the enjoyment we derive from having a real purpose keeps us thriving,” Walsh said.

“Madrid serves up another opportunity to perform, learn and prepare ourselves against the world’s best.”

The women kick off against Ireland before clashes with Fiji and France in Pool Championship B.

Australia women’s team: Faith Nathan, Dominique Du Toit, Teagan Levi, Charlotte Caslick (capt), Kaitlin Shave, Tia Hinds, Bella Nasser, Maddison Levi, Bridget Clark, Bienne Terita, Ruby Nicholas, Sariah Paki, Sidney Taylor.

Australia men’s team: Henry Hutchison, Ben Dowling, Dietrich Roache, Tim Clements, Henry Paterson, Josh Turner, Dally Bird, Matt Gonzalez, Nick Malouf (capt), Nathan Lawson, James Turner, Hayden Sargeant, Michael Icely.