Bittersweet Sevens debut for former 'Wallabies' captain Michael Hooper. SVNS

Former Australian rugby union captain Michael Hooper has made a bittersweet debut in the sevens format and is aiming to be part of the team that will challenge for gold at Paris 2024.

Michael Hooper made his sevens debut in an impressive 12-0 win over two-time Olympic champions Fiji at the Hong Kong Stadium on Friday. The 32-year-old flanker, who specialises in traditional 15-a-side rugby, was one of his team's standout performers, earning him a nomination for the 2015 IRB World Player of the Year, although he is still adjusting to being ready for the Olympic competition, which begins in France at the end of July.

Michael Hooper admitted he is still adjusting his game to make an impact on the Sevens stage after making his international debut at the Hong Kong Sevens in a bid to secure an Olympic place.

The former Australia captain, who was left out of the squad for the 2023 World Cup in France, announced his switch to rugby sevens last November in a bid to fulfil his Olympic dream.

He made his debut in the dying minutes of Australia's first match at Hong Kong Stadium on Friday. "I was bloody nervous on the touchline," Hooper told The Australian. "It's just so different and so new. The fans were going crazy... so to come on with four minutes to go and the game on the line was tough," the four-time Australian Player of the Year said after the match.

With 125 caps to his name, 69 as captain and a promising debut, the Australian has had to adapt his game to the speed and dynamics of the game. Hooper has been working hard over the past few months to lose weight and gain speed because he will no longer be playing against 130 or even 150 kilogram opponents, some of whom are slow.

On the contrary, rugby sevens is so dynamic and fast that he can go against players running at up to 10 metres per second, something that would be unthinkable in traditional rugby due to the more obstructive nature of 15-man and other forms of the game.

His performance didn't end with his debut. In true rugby sevens fashion, just hours after playing Fiji, Australia took on France again and Hooper came on as a late replacement to help protect a 14-5 lead. 

However, as he charged for the line, he was tackled short and turned the ball over, allowing Les Bleus to counterattack and score two late tries for a 19-14 victory, proving he was right to claim he had a lot to learn and adapt to in this new discipline. In the final match, Hooper did not play in Australia's 24-7 semi-final defeat to defending champions New Zealand in Hong Kong.