Excitement is growing with the imminent return of a new Greene King Rugby Championship season.
GHN recently caught up with USA Flyhalf & Saracens new signing Will Hooley to discuss his hopes and prospects for the new season with his new club.
Will also speaks about how he has managed to stay physically and mentally focused during a world pandemic.
GHN: What season number is this for you as a professional sportsman.
WH: This is my ninth year in professional rugby. The time has flown by, I feel it was only yesterday when I turned up at Northampton Saints as an 18-years-old.
GHN: Are you doing anything different for this preseason preparation in comparison to 5 years ago?
WH: This year has ultimately been the strangest I’ve ever had in my career. Within 12 months I’ve gone from homework outs, to preseason vol. 1, the Premiership, off season, preseason vol. 2, preseason games and now finally about to start the Championship. I’ve found the preseasons have been really focused on gaining muscle strength as ultimately we have had the time to be able to do it. However, this has been made hard by the mental battle of preseason, when we didn’t even know when our next league would start. Motivation levels were like a roller-coaster.
GHN: How have you managed to keep yourself physically and mentally fit during these uncertain and difficult times?
WH: As an athlete you are always driven to improve your performance. I have been lucky that I am part of a fantastic organisation at Saracens. Working with world class players and coaches, I have constantly been challenged and therefore remained focused on improving myself as a player. Nonetheless, with the uncertainty of our season, remaining mentally focused was difficult. As players we usually work towards a goal but as a result of the pandemic, those goals have been few and far between. It was hard to train with sometimes little motivation. However, at Saracens we have been fortunate with games throughout the year, whether that was in the Premiership, preseasons games or now finally a Championship season which is about to start.
GHN: What has been you best sporting memory to date? And do you have any tips for any young aspiring sports people hoping to play sport a career.
WH: My best sporting memory to date has to be playing at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. It is the pinnacle in rugby, a dream that became a reality. The feeling of playing at the tournament made the tough work, hard graft, ups and downs all worth it. To have my partner, family and friends there to watch me was the icing on the cake. Sport can give you so much, but I also think it is so important to be a well-rounded individual. Play as many sports as you can to develop your skills. You have to enjoy it because the enjoyment will help you to work hard.
GHN: What are you hopes for the 2021 season?
WH: To be honest, after the chaos of the last 12 months I feel very lucky with the position I’m in. I certainly don’t want to take anything for granted, and just want to enjoy being out there on the pitch. I wish to do my best for Saracens and hopefully get the club promoted back into the Premiership. It’s been nearly two years since I last played for the USA as a result of COVID-19. I’m really looking forward to getting back with the USA squad as we head into World Cup qualifiers later this year.