waratahs.com.au and James Mortimer 07.Feb.2013Getty Images
The 21-year-old Wallaby breakaway was born in NSW and says he can’t wait to pull the Waratahs’ jersey on for the first time. “I can’t wait to get into it.
“I’ve watched the Waratahs from when I was a kid, my mum and dad supported the Waratahs and they were the team I went for.
“To be able to finally play for them is something that definitely gets me excited and keen to go for the game.”
Hooper is one of six changes to the 28-man squad from last week’s 24-16 win over the Rebels in Hobart. The side will be led once again by skipper Brendan McKibbin.
“Paddy Ryan is coming back, as are Michael Hooper, Kane Douglas, Drew Mitchell and Lachlan Turner,” said head coach Michael Cheika, of the other Wallabies scheduled for their first run of the season. The squad also features Southern Districts’ lock Jed Holloway, who like Hooper, will represent the team for the first time in New Zealand.
The match will be the team’s penultimate hit out before their Super Rugby season starts against the Reds up in Brisbane on Saturday February 23.
“The key here is about getting game hard and feeling the way with your team mates,” added Cheika, adding that he planned to give everyone in the squad as much game time as possible.
Cheika’s final chance to get his players that valuable game time will come next Thursday when the HSBC Waratahs take on an all-star Crusaders side at Allianz Stadium under the leadership of new captain Dave Dennis (Allianz Stadium, Thursday February 14, kick off 7.30pm). Tickets for the match cost just $20 for adults and $40 for families and are available now from www.ticketek.com.au.
Free admission to trial matches is one of the many benefits of a Waratahs Rugby membership, which also include access to the members-only Super Rugby matchday Tah Bar, great value match tickets and invitations to exclusive member-only events. Two game adult memberships start at just $38, with eight-game full season family packages available from just $325 (two adults and two children). To become a 2013 member call the membership hotline on 1300 733 899 (9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday) or buy online at www.waratahs.com.au/membership
HSBC Waratahs squad to play the Blues
Toll Stadium, Whangarei (Saturday February 9)
Michael Alaalatoa (Southern Districts)*
Richard Aho (Randwick)*
Kotoni Ale (Manly)*
Bernard Foley (vice captain)
AJ Gilbert (Northern Suburbs)*
Brendan McKibbin (captain)
Tolu Latu (Sydney University)*
Dane Maraki (Manly)*
Elijah Niko (Eastern Suburbs)*
Jeremy Tilse (vice captain)
Peter Samu (Randwick)*
Will Skelton (Sydney University)*