Quade Cooper achieves sensational returns when wallabies roll the dice for the South Africa Test | Rugby championship
Quade Cooper will make a remarkable return to test rugby on Sunday when he wears the Wallabies jersey for the first time since 2017 in the rugby championship match against South Africa.
Cooper, a 70 Test veteran whose last appearance was against Italy in Brisbane more than four years ago, was named as starting number 10 on the informal Noah Lolesio on Friday.
It marks an obvious shift in Australia’s recent youth policy, drawing on the 33-year-old’s experience as he tries to get his rugby championship campaign back on track after successive losses to the reigning world champions in New Zealand.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said Cooper, who has been involved in nine wins against the Springboks over the course of his career, deserved the opportunity to represent his country again.
“He’s had a really positive impact since joining the group, putting pressure on us as voters and looking forward to coming out and performing on Sunday night,” said Rennie.
The Gold Coast game also serves as a landmark for captain Michael Hooper, who will equate George Gregan’s record for most Tests as captain of the Wallabies when he leads his squad for the 59th time at the Cbus Super Stadium.
Angus Bell, the youngest member of the roster, made his international debut alongside hooker Folau Fainga’a and narrow-minded prop Allan Alaalatoa in the front row. Alaalatoa’s appearance brings him his 50th international match.
Izack Rodda, who was swept off the bench in last week’s Bledisloe Cup loss to the All Blacks, will also win a spot and will play on the second row alongside Matt Philip, while a back row with Lachlan Swinton, Rob Valetini and Hooper remains unchanged .
Cooper is supported by Tate McDermott at halves, while midfield pair Samu Kerevi and Len Ikitau remain unbroken.
“The game is also a big event for our leader Michael Hooper,” said Rennie. “He was in phenomenal shape and George Gregan’s record as captain of Australia as most of the tests is testament to his leadership and resilience.
“We can’t overlook Allan and Reece either [Hodge, named on the bench] which will bring 50 Tests to their country, another standout feat for two ultimate professionals who leave everything on the field every time they wear the jersey.
The Wallabies must win Sunday night’s game if they want realistic hopes of a battle for the rugby championship title. Two defeats against the All Blacks at the beginning of the tournament as part of a 3-0 Bledisloe series have pushed Rennie’s team into the background. South Africa can also boast two wins from their first two games.