World Cup Watch: Hooper in doubt for Wallabies squad

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Springboks captain Siya Kolisi said he was scared injury would deny him the chance to lead South Africa at the Rugby World Cup in France starting next month.

It was a close call. Kolisi hasn't played a Test in 2023 after suffering a partial anterior cruciate ligament tear earlier in the season. It mirrored the lead-up to his successful leadership effort to win the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

But he told South Africa's Business Day, "It is two different injuries. I was scared for this one. I had a proper surgeon who gave me confidence."

As a result, he will return to play in South Africa's warm-up game against Wales on Saturday week.

"It is important to have people around you who are confident. My medical team at the Springboks and the Sharks were all confident I'd be okay. I was blessed with healing. How quickly I healed was big."

The injury was a reminder of how quickly things could be taken away, and he felt for other players like centre Lukhanyo Am, first five-eighths Handre Pollard and lock Lood de Jager, who had been ruled out by injury.

Meanwhile, his Australian counterpart Michael Hooper will not be so lucky when the Australian team is named on Thursday.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Hooper, 31, would be left out of the Wallabies team due to his lingering calf injury, ending his 125-Test career unless he gets called up during the tournament as an injury replacement should his calf injury have recovered. He had earlier said the World Cup would end his Test career.

The Australian side is at camp in Darwin, where the team will be named, and while hopes were high that Hooper would recover in time, it appears coach Eddie Jones is not prepared to take the risk.

Queensland flanker Fraser McReight took advantage of Hooper's absence in the latter stages of the Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship to stake his claim, and with Tom Hooper also impressing, Jones is set to go with them.

His experience will be a significant loss for the side as he has the record for most Tests, 69, as Australia's captain.

It was also expected that first five-eighths Ben Donaldson, who can also play fullback, would be the bolter in the side named. He has played two Tests.

England prop Ellis Genge said the critical factor for World Cup success will be sides finding their identity, and the All Blacks were a contender because of that.

He told PA Sport, "Someone spoke to me recently and said about Ireland, South Africa and Eddie [Jones] going back to Australia. They didn't even mention New Zealand, so it shows where people's heads are at.

"New Zealand are still one of the best teams in the world.

"You have seen the upsets we have had in recent years, and it is wide open. Any good team is very, very good at what they do. There is no magic potion.

"You have to be very good at what you set out to do, and that is what all the best teams in history have done. I think the key factor is finding your identity and being really good at that. It is about hanging your hat on something."


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