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Hooper named for first Waratahs start
Adrian Warren
19:12 AEST Thu Feb 7 2013

Prize NSW Waratahs recruit Michael Hooper will get a chance for some payback against the Blues on Saturday when he plays his first game for the Super Rugby franchise.

The openside flanker is one of five Wallabies, named in a 28-man squad for the trial in Whangarei, who didn't play in the team's opening trial against Melbourne in Hobart last weekend.

Former Brumby Hooper, who enjoyed a tremendous rookie season at Test level in 2012, was earlier this week hoping he would get a crack at the Blues.

His time with the Brumbies effectively ended when the struggling Blues stopped the Canberra-based franchise from making the 2012 finals by inflicting a shock last-round defeat in Canberra.

Wingers Lachie Turner and Drew Mitchell, prop Paddy Ryan and lock Kane Douglas are the other Wallabies who will have their first Waratahs' hitout of the year.

Former NRL and AFL player Israel Folau, who made a two-try rugby union debut for NSW last week, has been named in the squad to again be led by halfback Brendan McKibbin.

The one injury worry for NSW is Wallabies back Berrick Barnes, who hurt a knee at training earlier in the week.

Barnes is unlikely to play in either of the Waratahs' last two trials against the Blues and Crusaders.

Coach Michael Cheika said Barnes isn't guaranteed a start in the Waratahs' first Super game against Queensland if he doesn't play a trial and other players do well in his place.

Cheika has suggested the Waratahs aren't likely to make an offer any time soon to their former halfback, Luke Burgess, who is reportedly looking for an early release from French club Toulouse.

All Blacks lock Ali Williams will make his debut as Blues captain in Saturday's game.


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