HE began the Super Rugby Pacific pre-season knowing he had work to do, but a lean and keen Tom Hooper now has two starting appearances with the ACT Brumbies his credit.
The Bathurst talent has played his role in helping the Brumbies go into the bye week sitting on top of the ladder with seven wins through eight rounds.
In his most recent match against Fiji Drua last Saturday, Hooper did enough to be named in the rugby.com.au best Australian team of the week.
"The lock was everywhere in defence, recording a round-high 21 tackles to go with nine carries and two tackle busts," the website said of his selection.
But before his on field efforts came plenty of work off it during the pre-season.
Ahead of his starting debut in round four he revealed just how much weight he had lost in his bid to see more game time.
"I'm down to 118 kilograms, I was on the heavy side at 125 ... I put down 122 kilograms on my player profile because I was a bit embarrassed," he said in early March.
Hooper earned his first spot in the Brumbies' starting XV in round four when they posted a 36-17 win over the Rebels.
He made the most of his chance as he earned 31 metres from his eight carries and made 20 tackles, saying the vast experience around him helped him settle into the contest.
"It's always good to have some level heads out there. A few times I was jumping for joy and had a bit of ants in my pants," he said.
"Level heads like Scott Sio and James Slipper prevailed and they told me to calm down and just breathe. Even Wrighty [Tom Wright] there for a second was like 'Mate, just settle down'.
"Not that I was getting too ahead of myself or anything, but it's just good to have that experience there so I know where I need to stand and what my job is in the team."
Following that match Hooper was used off the bench the next three rounds against the Queensland Reds (12 minutes), Western Force (24 minutes) and Reds (19 minutes) once more.
Last Saturday he was promoted to the starting XV again in a match the Brumbies won 33-12 against Fiji Drua.
As well as his individual statistics, Hooper played an important role in the Brumbies' powerful maul which set up four tries.
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