Australia’s Cooper recalled to face All Blacks
WELLINGTON – Australia flyhalf Quade Cooper has been recalled to the starting lineup for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand after a raft of injuries to the inside backs forced coach Michael Cheika to shake up his backline.
Bernard Foley has been shunted to inside centre to accommodate Cooper after Matt Giteau (broken leg), Rob Horne (shoulder) and Matt Toomua (concussion) were all injured in the first game last week.
The All Blacks blew the Wallabies off the field 42-8 last Saturday, with Giteau, Toomua and Horne all injured during the first half at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium. Replacement scrumhalf Nick Phipps was forced to play more than 40 minutes on the wing.
Foley has been Cheika’s first-choice flyhalf and the New Zealand-born Cooper has not appeared for the Wallabies since their 65-3 win over Uruguay at last year’s World Cup.
Foley’s hesitant performance in Sydney, where he took too much time to clear the ball and was harried by an aggressive All Blacks’ defence, however, also undoubtedly forced Cheika’s hand.
Queensland Reds’ Samu Kerevi has also replaced Tevita Kuridrani at centre after the ACT Brumbies player dropped numerous passes and failed to shut down the All Blacks midfield runners as they swept the ball across the park at high pace.
Scott Fardy also returns as starting blindside flanker, while Adam Coleman replaces Rob Simmons at lock.
The Wallabies must win the game at Wellington Regional Stadium to give themselves any hope of regaining the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2003.
The All Blacks only need to draw to retain the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy. The third match is in Auckland on Oct. 22 after the Rugby Championship ends.
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 -Reuters