Rugby Sevens: Former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper overcomes nerves in successful Sevens debut in Hong Kong

Former Australia captain Michael Hooper admitted he still has to adapt his game to have an impact on the sevens stage after making his international debut at the Hong Kong Sevens in his bid to secure a spot at the Olympic Games.

Hooper, 32, has featured in all four of Australia's games at Hong Kong Stadium, including their 15-0 quarterfinal win over South Africa on Saturday, as he launched his quest for selection for Paris in the summer.

Hooper got his most game time during his sides surprise 12-0 win over Olympic champions Fiji in pool play.  

"I was bloody nervous on the sideline," Hooper told The Australian.

"It's just so different and completely new. The fans were going to come on with four minutes to go with the game in the balance, it was tough stuff."

The four-times Australian player of the year has appeared at the Rugby World Cup twice in the 15-a-side version but, after controversially missing out on the finals in France last year, switched to sevens in a bid to earn a spot on the Olympic team.

Wearing the number 77 shirt, Hooper replaced Nathan Lawson with less than three minutes left to make his professional sevens debut.  

Ponipate Loganimasi fends off Michael Hooper in their Pool A match
Ponipate Loganimasi fends off Michael Hooper in their Pool A match Photo credit: Getty Images

He was immediately involved in the action, making consecutive tackles to snuff out Fijian attempts to find a way back into the game as Australia made a winning start to the tournament.

"I came on and did what I had to do," Hooper said. "I just had to come on in and finish it off for us.

"I've got a wealth of games under my belt, so I'm trying to lean into that.

"The fact is, I'm completely new at this so finding out where I can impact the game, coming up against Fiji round one is pretty daunting. So I'll just take it step by step from here."

Hooper's performance earned praise from Australia head coach John Manenti, who offered no guarantees of a place in the squad for Paris.

"He did well," Manenti said. "He came on and did what he does pretty well, pilfer, so that was pretty significant.

"He's been working really hard to get here. We said from the start, nothing was going to be given, he had to earn everything.

"You could see the boys that were on before him playing pretty good footy so he's going to have to keep fighting and keep proving himself.

"He doesn't want anything given but the only way we're going to find out is putting him out there and keep testing him.

"So we'll keep challenging him and I'm sure, the champion he is, he'll keep turning up and doing his best."

Hooper and Australia are scheduled to face old foes New Zealand in their semifinal on Sunday evening (NZ time).