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Hodge a UK tour doubt but Wallabies issue happier update on Cooper

By AAP
(Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

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Reece Hodge is a doubt for the UK leg of the Wallabies spring tour but coach Dave Rennie has confirmed Quade Cooper will feature after discussions with his Japanese club. Hodge lasted only 13 minutes of Australia’s 32-23 tour-opening win over Japan in Oita on Saturday after sustaining a pectoral muscle injury.

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Their fifth straight victory notched up Australia’s longest win streak in six years but it left Rennie sweating on scans and he explained that while Hodge will still fly to London with the squad on Sunday, the utility back is no certainty to play against either Scotland, England or Wales. “The plan is that he will travel,” Rennie said.

“We have still got a couple of weeks until we play Scotland so that will buy us some time to get clarity around what we do if it is (as) long-term (injury). We will assess that in the coming days.”

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Respectful of where his paycheque is coming from, Cooper has been ever-diplomatic in recent weeks when asked if Saturday’s game would be his last Test of the year. Although World Rugby regulations dictate that clubs must release players for international duty, Cooper wants the blessing of the Kintetsu Liners.

It appears the playmaker has that, with Rennie offering an emphatic “yes” when asked if Cooper would be on the Wallabies plane to the UK on Sunday. They will play three Test matches on consecutive weekends at Murrayfield, Twickenham and the Principality to close out the year.

Meanwhile, Australian-raised back-row warrior Ben Gunther has made an impassioned plea for the Brave Blossoms to be included in the Rugby Championship after Japan almost pulled off a historic win over the Wallabies. Gunther was immense as a late try to Wallabies debutant Connal McInerney clinched the nine-point victory for Australia.

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“Obviously we didn’t get the result that we wanted but it shows that the Japanese level of rugby now is very competitive. Like, we are taking it to tier-one teams. We don’t look at them as though they are going to smash us. We look at them as if we can beat these teams week in, week out.”

 

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