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Injured Wallabies and Waratahs captain and fidgety spectator Michael Hooper hasn’t given up hope of returning before the end of the Super Rugby season.
The dynamic flanker injured a hamstring in the Wallabies final Test against Ireland on June 23 and was expected to be out for around four weeks.
The Australian conference-leading Waratahs however, are now well placed to win the local section following a victory over their closest challengers Melbourne Rebels.
Two more wins will guarantee them the conference title and a home qualifier on the weekend starting July 20, around the time Hooper could be available again
“I wouldn’t rule it out (returning to Super Rugby this season),” Hooper said on Monday.
“With these type of things, from seeking a lot of information about it, it’s a real suck it and see type thing.
“The way the body heals is up in the air a lot of the time. You’ll have some guys who can bounce back from these really quick and some guys take a bit longer.
“I don’t know where I sit in that.”
Hooper said the Wallabies were in a really good place despite their 2-1 series loss to the Six Nations champions.
“We were able to score points, we were able to put points on the board,” he said.
“But probably from that second game, and a little bit in that last game, discipline in big moments hurts, being passive in defence hurt us as well.”
NSW scored a couple of late tries following intercepts to eke out a narrow win over Melbourne without Hooper and suspended backline star Israel Folau.
Both men commended the side for grinding out a win without playing their best.
“We played very average according to our standards as a team, but managed to get the win, which is a great sign,” Folau said.
Hooper, who was pacing around his parents house as he watched the tense finish to the game, identified discipline and defence as areas NSW needed to lift in for Saturday’s game.
He hailed, but was not surprised, by the influence of his replacement Will Miller, with the flanker making some big plays including scoring a try and executing a crucial late steal.
“He’s been coming up with turnovers and some good runs throughout the course of the year, so to me it was no surprise that the guy has come out and had a great game,” Hooper said.
The Sunwolves have the least competition points and wins this season, but Folau stressed NSW couldn’t afford to be complacent against the Japanese side, who rolled the Bulls last weekend.