All Blacks boss Ian Foster reacts to Quade Cooper's Wallabies recall
The selection of Cooper for the Wallabies for the first time since 2017 caught the attention of the rugby world when it was announced on Friday, and Foster was among those to take note of the mercurial playmaker’s inclusion in Rennie’s side.
Cooper’s recall comes after Foster’s All Blacks swept the Wallabies in three straight test matches in Auckland and Perth to lock the Bledisloe Cup away for a 19th consecutive year.
Throughout the trans-Tasman series, Rennie opted for young pivot Noah Lolesio as his No 10, even in spite of heavy speculation that linked Cooper to an appearance in the dead-rubber Bledisloe Cup test at Optus Stadium last week.
However, Rennie has changed his selection approach as the Wallabies prepare to take on the Springboks in a must-win Rugby Championship encounter on the Gold Coast on Sunday after Lolesio produced three erratic performances against the All Blacks.
In his place comes Cooper, who will add to his 70 test caps after four years in the international wilderness following an SOS call from Rennie in the wake of James O’Connor’s groin injury last month.
The 33-year-old’s addition to the Wallabies side to take on the world champions has been the major talking point leading into the third round of the Rugby Championship, and Foster didn’t shy away when asked for his thoughts on Cooper’s return to test rugby.
“To be fair, I haven’t spent too much time thinking about that, but I’ll try to come up with an adequate answer for you,” Foster told reporters on Friday.
“He certainly creates a lot of interest, particularly over here [in Australia], but I haven’t really seen Quade play for two or three years, so I’m really not too sure how to comment on that.
“I know the Quade of old has a lot going for him and, from what I hear, he’s done really well in their camp, so I’m sure they’ve picked him for a reason.
“In some ways, when you’ve lost a few, you are looking for a little bit of a change in seasoning in your squad to add a different flavour, and he’ll certainly bring that.”
It remains to be seen whether that change in personnel will reaps the rewards Rennie and the Wallabies are after as they continue their search for their first win since they beat France in Brisbane to clinch a three-test series victory in July.
Failure to walk away from Cbus Super Stadium with all the competition points this weekend could leave the Wallabies rooted to the bottom of the Rugby Championship table, as they currently are, at the halfway stage of the tournament.
Victory is also required if the Australians are to reclaim the Mandela Challenge Plate from the South Africans for the first time since 2018 after the Springboks last beat the Wallabies 35-17 in Johannesburg two years ago.
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