SAINT Stanislaus’ College talent Tom Hooper has made an excellent start to his Australian Schools Rugby Championship campaign by picking up a pair of wins with his NSW 2 squad.
NSW 2 have got off on the front foot with wins against Combined States (45-22) and Western Australia (32-7), which gives the team a big boost ahead of their Thursday meeting with heavyweights Queensland 1.
Hooper’s no stranger to this stage having represented NSW 1 at under 16s level last year alongside four of his Stannies classmates.
So far his step up to the open level has been a positive one.
“It’s a great feeling to be a part of this team. There’s a great group of boys here,” Hooper said.
“Our strength has been the way we’ve bonded as a team. Our communication has been excellent and our attack out wide has been great.
“We have some backs who are crazy in their skills and footwork. That’s really impressive. And our forwards are hard footballers who give the backs the space they need.”
Hooper said there were a couple of lapses in the opening match against Combined States but the team’s attack was a consistent threat.
There were worrying moments for NSW in the early stages of their game with Western Australia.
After repelling early Western Australia attacks the NSW boys got on top thanks to a try for Faiva Faiva and never looked back.
Hooper got himself on the score sheet for NSW 2 and Kinross Wolaroi team mate Aiden Kelso bagged a brace.
Taking down Queensland will require a consistent game from the NSW 2 boys.
Hooper said the team are excited to challenge the fellow unbeaten Queensland squad.
“Hopefully from that game we can top our pool or come second in our pool and get one of the later games on Saturday,” he said.
“We watched Queensland’s first game against Western Australia and they’re probably the favourites for the competition. They’re looking very slick.
“Them and our NSW 1s, ACT and us are looking like the top four at the moment. Anything can happen but Queensland will definitely be our biggest test as far as pool games go.
“There’s massive boys running around in that Queensland team. There’s a couple of boys who are 130 kilos plus, so we’ll have to chop them down at the ankles.
“Everyone goes through to play on Saturday but obviously we’d like to be up the top end of the competition and get ourselves preferably a spot in the top two.”
Hooper is part of a strong ISA representation across both NSW teams, which includes Kinross Wolaroi’s Donny Freeman (NSW 1), Kelso and Will Smith (NSW 2).
The year 12 Stannies student said it was a great feeling to continue his school’s representation at state level.
Our communication has been excellent and our attack out wide has been great.Tom Hooper
“We’ve had a pretty successful last few years with the likes of Josh Oxley and James Donato, then we had Bo Abra and Jack Veitch,” he said.
“Last year there was Hunter [Ward], Joel [Thomas] and Bo so it’s good to continue on that steady representation that we’ve had over the past five years or so.”
NSW 2 and QLD 1 will face off from 1pm on Thursday.
The winner will secure first place in the pool and at this stage a likely meeting in the final with NSW 1.