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Hooper claims the lure of home was too good to resist


Chris Dutton

Brumbies player Michael Hooper at team training at Marist College in Pearce on April 15.

Brumbies player Michael Hooper at team training at Marist College in Pearce on April 15. Photo: Richard Briggs

The desperate desire to move home and a chance to chase his dream of wearing the NSW Waratahs' No.7 convinced Michael Hooper it was time to end his career in Canberra.

Hooper has agreed to a two-year deal with the Waratahs and will join the ACT Brumbies' arch-rivals at the end of the Super Rugby season.

The 20-year-old had been locked in contract negotiations before a game had been played this year, with Brumbies coach Jake White keen to secure the rising openside flanker.

It's a major blow to the Brumbies with Hooper leaving the club in career-best form.

However, they still have former Australian under-20s captain Colby Faingaa and Ita Vaea who will battle for the spot.

After spending the past three years away from his family, Hooper decided he needed to return to Sydney to continue his career.

''The lure to be back home and play rugby at this level would be a dream come true,'' Hooper said.

''It's all of things coming together, family and being back home near where I grew up.

''I grew up following the Waratahs and I've decided to go in that direction.

''I was very close [to remaining in Canberra], but the way things fell I thought this decision was the best one for myself.

''I've always thought it would be nice to go back [to Sydney] and it was only recently I made the decision because it was such a tough choice.''

Three years after breaking into the Brumbies' top squad, Hooper has evolved from a teenage talent to a potential Super Rugby star.

He has lifted his game to a new level this season and has earned the praise of Australia's World Cup winning captain John Eales and a host of past and current players.

He is in the midst of a breakout campaign as a dominant flanker.

But after agonising over his future since February, Hooper hoped his performances would get even better now he is no longer distracted by contract negotiations.

Hooper described the process of choosing the Waratahs as the ''toughest of my career'' and was relieved to have a deal finalised.

''It's good to have it behind me, it was a distraction for me,'' Hooper said.

''I was going into games not thinking solely about the game and that's distracting. I'm definitely a lot freer now in my thoughts.

''I came to Canberra out of school but I've never had a decision as hard as this.''

Hooper joined the Brumbies as a back-up to George Smith and earned his first starting cap in 2010 when Smith damaged nerves in his shoulder. But it has taken until this year for him to establish himself as a Super Rugby player.

White is adamant Hooper's defection will not count against him at the selection table.

And Hooper vowed to repay the faith by putting his body on the line for the Brumbies for the remainder of the year.

''I hope I can keep performing to be selected despite my decision to go next year,'' Hooper said.

''I'll give the Brumbies everything I have and will continue to do so until the end of the year.

''I chose the Brumbies over the Waratahs when I left school and the Brumbies were the shining light for me then, I wouldn't change anything.

''The No.7 for the Waratahs is a hotly contested spot and I think it's a good opportunity for me to go back and make that jersey my own.''

Brumbies forwards coach Laurie Fisher was disappointed to lose Hooper, but said his increased work rate this season had made him one of the competition's leading ball fetchers.

''Prior to this year he was making a lot of decisions not to go into contests at the breakdown and now he just goes in,'' Fisher said.

''He's putting his head in and competing and I think that change of mindset has been good for him.'' Chris Dutton

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
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NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
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AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
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Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
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WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
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WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
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LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
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WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 3 0 3 0 -139 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 3 0 3 0 -96 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 3 1 2 0 -22 6
Namibia 3 0 3 0 -59 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Romania 3 1 2 0 -59 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
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