Australia

Cooper brings up his half-ton

Thu, 28 Nov 2013 08:57
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He has really enjoyed the responsibility of playing at No.10
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Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper will become Australia's 40th player to reach the prestigious 50-game Test milestone.

He will achieve this in Saturday's final year-end tour and James Bevan Trophy contest against Wales at Millennium Stadium.

The honour comes at the end of a watershed year for the 25-year-old Queensland Reds playmaker, who was also given Australia's vice-captaincy duties throughout the year-end tour.

Cooper boasts an impressive winning strike rate of winning 31 of his 49 Tests since debuting against Italy in 2008 and has accumulated 124 points in his Test career to date.

He will now be aiming to celebrate his milestone game as part of an Australian team that has made three changes to its starting line-up against Wales.

Those changes include the return of Adam Ashley-Cooper at outside centre and Nick Cummins on the wing - after they were banned last week for a booze binge in the build-up to the encounter with Ireland.

Christian Leali'ifano shifts to his preferred role in the No.12 jersey.

Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie has also re-shuffled his bench - with hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, prop Benn Robinson, lock Kane Douglas, back row forward Dave Dennis and centre Mike Harris the five changes made.

For the third straight week the Wallabies have named an unchanged starting forward pack.

"We're treating this week a little bit like our Grand Final, so it's pleasing to bring in some big game players with a lot of experience," McKenzie said.

"I think everyone will be extremely motivated by the circumstances of the game and the opportunity to play Wales in their backyard. For us to finish on a high would be good reward for a lot of the hard work being done.

"There has been a lot of change and different things happening, so for the guys to push through that has been terrific."

McKenzie also congratulated Cooper on reaching the 50-game honour.

"To get to 50 games is an outstanding achievement and it's fitting that he reaches the milestone at the end of a really good individual season," McKenzie said.

"He has really enjoyed the responsibility of playing at No.10 for Australia. He is a very proud guy and proud of his involvement. This team is very important to him and I'm personally quite pleased for him.

"He's continually improving both on and off the field and definitely isn't the finished article, which is promising.

"But, he won't be too caught up in the milestone externally, his focus will be on how he fits into the team and his responsibility of managing this game."

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Dave Dennis, 21 Nic White, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Bernard Foley.

Date: Saturday, December 30
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 17.00 (17.00 GMT; 04.00, Sunday, December 1 AEDT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Alain Rolland (Ireland), John Lacey (Ireland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

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