Further Info: Nicknamed Hoops, 1st Team Friendlies
Jason Hooper by Dave Dooley:
Jason Hooper was Saints` first `new signing` for the 2003 season, back in July. Equally at home in the threequaters, at Stand Off or in the Loose Forward position, his versatility together with his smart footballing skills ensured that he became a vital member of the St. Helens squad. At 25 years of age, he was at the peak of his career and is relished his move to South West Lancs.
In the NRL `Hoops` played for Illawara Steelers in 1998 and then joined St. George Illawara Dragons in 1999. In 2002 he scored 5 tries in 24 appearances for the Dragons taking his NRL totals to 21 tries in 87 appearances.
Also a Carpenter, Jason started his RL career at the Albion Park Oak Flats club. He represented Country Under 17s. The most memorable aspect of his debut for the Steelers, in 1998 was the fact that he suffered a broken cheekbone!
Ian Millward, Saints Head Coach, said after he signed for the Saints, "Jason is a fantastic player with youth on his side. We have obtained a player that is young is will be able to develop and integrate perfectly with the Saints style of play".
Jason made his debut for the Saints against UTC (France) on February 8th., 2003. Jason came on from the bench to notch two tries in a very impressive debut. His linking up and astute passes and clever offloads have already endeared him to many Saints` fans. He was also a keen tackler. In his inaugural Super League match at home to the Bradford Bulls, Jason scored a scorching try after outpacing the Bulls defence in a neat diagonal run to the corner. In the first ten matches of the 2003 season he demonstrated his versatility by playing hooker and switching between the loose forward and stand off role. Jason completed an impressive first season though Saints failed to win any trophies.
The 2004 campaign saw Jason achieve great heights. For many a supporter he was the best and most influential player throughout the season. His craft was at the heart of the stupendous Challenge Cup run at the outset of the season. The Challenge Cup road to Cardiff saw Saints collecting the biggest scalps in the game. A stunning away victory against Bradford was followed up with home victories against Leeds and Hull both of whom showed tremendous resistance. A high flying and confident Huddersfield team were dumped by forty points in the glorious Warrington sunshine on semi-final day. Jason stood tall throughout this period exhibiting great support in attack and remained the cornerstone of the Saints` defence. The Final was only minutes old when Jason typically challenged Kris Radlinski as he was about to unleash a kick on the sixth tackle. The Wigan full back muffed the manoevre with the resultant loose ball being moved out to a rampant Lee Gilmour who crossed for a Saints lead that they were never to relinquish. The reward was a first Challenge Cup winners medal as Saints prevailed over the old enemy by 32 points to 16 in the Costa del Cardiff. After 18 rounds of the league campaign Saints were in second position with Hoops playing out of his skin. In the home league match against Bradford, Jason was impeccable as he scored a scorching hat trick against the Bulls. Indeed Jason ended the season as the club`s top try scorer with 20 tries from 31 matches. His all round game was also demonstrated as Jason also helped himself to 14 goals in the campaign. This haul included a couple of touchline gem conversions and seven goals against Huddersfield in the 50 points to 10 home demolition of the Yorkshiremen. However, Saints` season fizzled out as suspensions and injuries conspired to restrict the side to a lowly fifth place in the league ladder.
The 2006 season aw Saints riding on a crest of a wave throughout the campaign. Hoops continued with his highly effective attcking defence as he plagued opponent`s kickers as Saints defence was an all time best. Jason collected two more winners` medals as the Saints stormed to a fantastic treble winning the Challenge Cup and Grand Final and completing the league season a full eight points clear of their nearest rivals Hull FC.