Another overseas stint or chasing Olympic Games glory appear to be Michael Hooper’s two options after the former Wallabies captain all but ruled out playing for Australia beyond 2023.
Hooper will line up for his last home game for the NSW Waratahs on Saturday at Allianz Stadium with a firm focus on trying to help the side enter the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs with momentum.
The champion flanker is keeping the door open for future playing opportunities but doubts he will extend his Wallabies career beyond this year’s Rugby World Cup in France – if selected.
Asked on Tuesday if he would consider answering a call from Wallabies coach Eddie Jones to feature in the 2025 series against the British and Irish Lions in Australia, Hooper let out a lengthy sigh.
“Ahhh, oh, I don’t know,” he said.
“You never say never. I’ve travelled a lot and been lucky enough to be able to do this for a long time.
“I have a young family. However that shapes up over the next little bit, and what that takes to get back in a gold jersey in that point in time, I don’t know. It depends.
“I don’t know what the next six months looks like, let alone the next three years.”
After abruptly taking a mental-health break last year, the most-capped Wallabies captain in history conceded in March he was unsure what the future held after this season.
Fast forward two months and he still doesn’t know, or at least isn’t letting on publicly.
“I haven’t been in the position to have an open sort of landscape and that’s really exciting for me and somewhat daunting at times because I’ve been so institutionalised by rugby,” Hooper said.
“But for 90 per cent of the time it’s a really nice position to be in.”
The 124-Test stalwart is also tempted by the challenge of trying to make the Australian sevens team for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“Sevens is on the landscape but there’s a lot of work and detail that needs to go into that,” he said.
“Those guys are incredibly fit. It’s a different beast to when I started and played a bit – not for Aussie sevens, but years and years ago.
“And now I’m a different player as well, so how that would even look there’s a lot of discussion that needs to be had.
“Is there overseas? Is there something else? I’m really open to it.”
First and foremost, after leading NSW to a hoodoo-busting first Super Rugby title in 2014, the 31-year-old is intent on trying to help the Waratahs win a second crown.
The Tahs host Moana Pasifika in the last round assured of finishing sixth but needing to bounce back from last Saturday’s 42-18 belting from the Crusaders in Christchurch heading into next week’s sudden-death quarter-finals.
“I’m trying to focus on the game. It’s a big game for us to try to regain some momentum going into the finals so I want to play well,” Hooper said.
“That’s my first focus and then after that final whistle blows … having the family there, and hopefully getting them onto the field to experience that with me would be cool.”