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Wallaby outcast eyes World Cup call-up

Deemed surplus to requirements for France 2023 by Eddie Jones, a stalwart of Australian rugby is still holding out hope of featuring for the Wallabies at the tournament.

Flanker Michael Hooper, who spent two months out of the game on a mental health break last year, is Australia’s most-capped skipper, having led the side in 69 of his 125 Tests.

He picked up a calf injury earlier this year and missed their last three Tests, but was reportedly eager to play and aiming to be ready for the Aussies’ World Cup opener against Georgia on Saturday.

However, Hooper and fellow veteran Quade Cooper were the big-name omissions as head coach Jones named a youthful Australia squad for the rugby spectacle.

Hooper’s omission likely draws the curtain on his international career, although the 31-year-old has his fingers crossed for a late call-up and is willing to be a replacement player.

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“This is my final year of my contract, [and the World Cup] really [would’ve] been a bit of a pinnacle of where my career would be, and finishing up on that note,’ Hooper, who will be part of Stan Sport‘s coverage of the World Cup, told WSFM.

“But hey, I’ve been on the right side of the stick a lot with selection and being involved in teams, and it wasn’t to be this time.

“I’ve had the whole grieving period and coming out the other side, and now it’s turning into excitement to watch it all kick off and trying to stay fit secretly. So, you know, if there’s a chance, I might be there.”

It is the most inexperienced Wallabies World Cup squad in the professional era, with only eight of them having played the showpiece tournament before, and Hooper is ready and available if called upon by Jones.

“There has been significant changes, but [Jones has] got a plan and he’s executing that plan,” he said. “I respect that he’s going after those decisions and making some big calls – that’s his job as coach.

“He’s putting together a team to do what he wants to do and that’s got to be supported by all Wallabies.”

Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP

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