Michael Hooper will make his NSW debut this Saturday when the HSBC Waratahs take on the Blues in Whangarei (kick off 4.30pm EST).
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.
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)*