'He'll be licking his lips': Brodie Retallick's message to Quade Cooper
Saturday’s test could see the return of former Wallabies flyhalf Quade Cooper to the test arena, with the mercurial No 10 recently called into the squad despite spending the past season representing Kintetsu Liners in Japan’s Top League.
Cooper famously had some forgettable nights at Eden Park during his peak as the Wallabies flyhalf, including the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-final where he was a target for the All Blacks and the home crowd.
The mercurial flyhalf has lost all eight tests he has played in New Zealand against the All Blacks, six of them starts with two appearances from the bench from 2011 to 2016.
A return to the Wallabies line-up would be a final chance to lift the monkey off his back after over three years out of top flight action and be a part of a Wallabies win on New Zealand soil.
However, the All Blacks aren’t expecting to see Cooper with head coach Ian Foster saying he’d be surprised if Rennie rushed Cooper back into the Wallabies’ matchday 23.
“I don’t know,” Foster said when queried over whether the All Blacks would see Cooper on the field.
“He’s been selected as a squad member. I’ll expect him to contribute behind the scenes, so I can’t really say too much about that.
“Do I expect him to be on the park on Saturday? Not really.
“If he is, we know his qualities, and we know he is a very gifted rugby player. Like everyone, we just have to adjust a few tactics if that happens.”
Returning All Black lock Brodie Retallick – who’s squared off many a time with Cooper for both the All Blacks and the Chiefs, would be happy to see Cooper back in the gold jersey.
“Good on him,” he said. “When you get your opportunity, who knows what it brings. Obviously I saw a little bit of him – we didn’t play each other – playing in Japan, him and Will [Genia] playing there in Japan, I think they did an awesome job.
“No doubt if he gets his chance, he’ll be licking his lips.”
The Wallabies first choice flyhalf in 2020 under first year head coach was James O’Connor, who was absent throughout this year’s July series against France due to injury. In his place stepped up young Noah Lolesio, who debuted against the All Blacks in Sydney last year in a 43-8 loss.
It is expected that the Wallabies will start Lolesio should O’Connor not be fit, as they look to build towards the future. But if O’Connor is still unfit it could open the door to see Cooper in some capacity.
Rennie has Matt To’omua and utility Reece Hodge as secondary options at 10 should he not want to use Cooper as a specialist reserve.
Both teams for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup fixture at Eden Park will be announced tomorrow.
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