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Hooper claims the lure of home was too good to resist

Date

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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Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
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 22:00KPS
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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Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
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WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
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France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
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