Wallaby lifeline for Cooper

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 05:57

TEAM ANNOUMCEMENT: Quade Cooper has been thrown a Test lifeline after being recalled Thursday to the Australian side.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika made a major backline shake up for the second Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship tie against New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday.

It will be the Toulon-based Cooper's first game at any level since April and his first Test since the Wallabies played Uruguay 11 months ago during the World Cup.

New Zealand-born Cooper is loathed by New Zealand crowds, after several run-ins with popular former All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, but is respected by the All Blacks themselves.

"Quade's a good player," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.

"He gets maligned a wee bit over here because of a few incidents with Richie and we're not too forgiving on people that pick on Richie - I'm talking about the fans - but within the team he's well respected. He's a good player so he'll enhance them I think."

After being embarrassed by a 42-8 thrashing on home soil in Sydney last week, Cheika has been forced to make multiple changes for the game that doubles as a Rugby Championship match.

His cause has also not been helped by a large whole in midfield stocks with injuries to Matt Giteau, Matt Toomua and Rob Horne.

Cooper, who has 58-Tests under his belt in a checkered career, will slot into his regular flyhalf role, forcing 31-Test incumbent Bernard Foley to move out one to inside centre.

Samu Kerevi has been named outside him for his first appearance since the second Test against England in June.

Kerevi's promotion is at the expense of Tevita Kuridrani who drops to the bench after repeated handling problems last week.

Adam Ashley-Cooper, Dane Haylett-Petty and Israel Folau make up the back three.

Western Force lock Adam Coleman has earned his first start for the Wallabies after a debut off the bench in the third Test against England in June with Rob Simmons dumped from the matchday 23.

Brumbies flank Scott Fardy has also earned a re-call to the starting side while hulking Will Skelton will make his return via the bench after sitting out the opening encounter last weekend.

Melbourne Rebels' utility Reece Hodge is in line to make his debut after being named as one of three back replacements along with Tevita Kuridrani and Nick Phipps.

Cheika had raised the prospect of including Cooper and Hodge earlier in the week when he spoke of a need to do something "a little bit different" to cover for the list of injured centres.

"Quade's obviously been there or thereabouts in training, Reece Hodge has also put his hand up quite well at training over the last few weeks," Cheika said.

The last time Cooper played at flyhalf against the All Blacks was in Auckland last year when the Wallabies lost 13-41 - their 18th consecutive defeat in New Zealand dating back to 2001.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Dane Haylett-Petty, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Ala'alatoa, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Dean Mumm, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Tevita Kuridrani, 23 Reece Hodge.

Date: Saturday, August 27
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19.35 (17.35 AEST, 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)


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