AN opportunity to step up - it is that opportunity Tom Hooper will be looking to seize this month as he resumes pre-season training with the ACT Brumbies.
Hooper was promoted from the ACT Brumbies Academy to the Brumbies' Super Rugby squad in November, the talented Bathurst lock having worked hard across five weeks of pre-season training prior to Christmas.
Last week Brumbies head coach Dan McKellar confirmed his 36-player squad for the upcoming season and Hooper's name was on the list.
While a bulk of that squad are returning after last season's title success, McKellar said Hooper and his fellow academy graduates have brought "new enthusiasm and energy to the group."
The coach is keen to offer former Australian Schoolboy Hooper a chance to stake his claims for Super Rugby game time.
"It was a big part of what we spoke about back in 2017 when I got the job. We wanted to make sure we had a genuine pathway for boys to play Super Rugby for the Brumbies. That's genuine now," he said.
"Last year we got a number of guys from the Australian under 18s team who beat New Zealand, they're entrenched in our program now and they get an opportunity to step up."
Hooper and his fellow squad members resumed training last week after a fortnight off, his target no doubt to see game time in a January 30 trial against the NSW Waratahs to be played in Bowral. It would offer him another opportunity to impress McKellar.
The Brumbies are set to begin their Super Rugby AU title defence on February 19 with an away match against Western Force. It's a crown McKeller is intent on retaining.
"We're proud of what we achieved last season, particularly through the adversity we faced, but we have to look forward now, and with this group, our only goal is to just get better and better every day," he said.