Quade Cooper set for recall as Wallabies roll dice for South Africa Test

Quade Cooper will make a dramatic return to Test rugby as Wallabies coach Dave Rennie rolls the dice to try to keep Australia’s forlorn Rugby Championship hopes alive. Rennie will on Friday name 33-year-old Cooper as Australia’s No 10 to face the world champion Springboks on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

The mercurial playmaker last pulled on the Wallabies gold in 2017. With the Wallabies desperately needing to win after two straight losses to the All Blacks to start the tournament, and New Zealand and South Africa both 2-0, Rennie has dumped the under-performing Noah Lolesio in favour of Cooper’s experience and flair.

His return marks an incredible comeback after being frozen out by Brad Thorn at the Queensland Reds four years ago, then heading overseas to ply his trade in Japan following a one-season cameo in Melbourne. Cooper’s inclusion marks a shift in selection policy from Rennie, who had been steadfastly pinning his faith in the youth movement.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. Former Wallabies star Lote Tuqiri will be pleased with Cooper’s selection after calling on Rennie on Thursday to give the 70-Test veteran another shot.

“I’ve always liked Quade Cooper,” Tuqiri said. “He’s in the squad, he’s been in and around that time for a while … I’m not saying Noah Lolesio is not the option [but] Noah probably needs a bit of a rest at the moment. He’s only a young guy. Feeling that constant pressure each week can get a bit tough.

“He’s only young in his Wallabies career, so give him a week or two off and let Quade take some of these games. He can help take the pressure off [Lolesio] and then Noah can come take over probably for the last couple of games. That’s what I’d do.”

Rennie will name his full 23-man squad later on Friday.


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