Wallabies captain and flanker Michael Hooper is ready for action with his Waratahs side against the Brumbies when the DHL Super Rugby Pacific season opens at the weekend.
The sides will meet at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Friday night.
Hooper, who took time out of rugby last season, told rugby.com.au he was looking forward to renewing acquaintances on the field with many of his Wallaby-team mates in the Brumbies side.
“These games are like Test matches. It’s a big match-up and the games we all want to play,” he said.
Hooper has played no warm-up games for the side but was unconcerned.
“I feel fresh. I guess part of the benefit of not playing for a while is you get to understand where your body’s at, and what you need.”
He has been working with conditioning coaches to find gains in his preparation.
Strength and conditioning coach Nick Lumley has worked in Europe with players in their 30s, and Hooper has been talking with him about what he, as a 31-year-old, should be looking at.
It was about trying to push himself in different directions.
“The moment I get stagnant is probably the moment that I’ll stop enjoying it. So, I’m trying to find new things and new nuggets that I could pick up and grow on.”
Australia A and Waratahs assistant coach Jason Gilmore said Hooper’s pre-season had been impressive.
“He’s been unreal. Those boys that didn’t play trials had a tough session on Friday. They were split into different groups, so Hoops was working with [Dave] Porecki, and he’d finished his training session. Most of the other group were still going with their session, so he jumped in with the other boys off his own back.
“You can tell the closer that its got to round one, Hoops has been starting to shine with his leadership and go-forward. He’ll be ready to go.”