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Quade Cooper headlines five changes to Wallabies side for Springboks

By Alex McLeod

Trending on RugbyPass

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Veteran playmaker Quade Cooper headlines the five changes made to the Wallabies by head coach Dave Rennie ahead of this weekend’s clash against the Springboks on the Gold Coast.

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Cooper has been named to start at No 10 for the Wallabies for the first time since 2017, when he made the last of his 70 test appearances against Italy in Brisbane.

Since then, the 33-year-old has endured a turbulent four years that saw him dropped from the Queensland Reds by Brad Thorn in 2018, which was followed by a one-off spell with the Melbourne Rebels a year later.

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Cooper’s move south wasn’t enough to win a re-call to the Wallabies squad for the 2019 World Cup, though, and that was enough for him to take up a deal abroad with the Hanazono Kintetsu Liners in Japan.

It’s there where he remains at club level, but a shock call-up to the Wallabies squad as injury cover for James O’Connor has paved the way for Cooper to return to the test arena, a prospect that will come to fruition at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday.

In doing so, Cooper replaces rookie first-five Noah Lolesio, who struggled in the three tests against the All Blacks after having initially impressed against a depleted French side in July.

Cooper will pair up with electric halfback Tate McDermott in the halves, while fellow Japan-based five-eighth Samu Kerevi will line up outside him at second-five.

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Kerevi’s midfield partnership with Len Ikitau remains intact for this week’s clash against the Springboks, while the outside back trio of Marika Koroibete, Andrew Kellaway and Tom Banks is also unchanged.

In the forward pack, inexperienced loosehead prop Angus Bell gets his first start at test level after replacing the benched James Slipper in the No 1 jersey.

Lock Izack Rodda, meanwhile, comes into the starting team in place of Darcy Swain after marking his return to Australian rugby off the bench in last week’s defeat to the All Blacks in Perth.

Front rowers Folau Fainga’a and Allan Alaalatoa, as well as loose forward Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper – who will become Australia’s fifth-most capped player ever this weekend – and Rob Valetini have all retained their starting places.

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A further two changes in the reserves could see hooker Feleti Kaitu’u and lock Rob Leota make their test debuts for the Wallabies after they were named on the pine both at the expense of Lachlan Longergan and to fill the void left by Rodda.

“We’re thrilled for Quade that he’s earned another opportunity to pull on the gold jersey for the country,” Rennie said in a statement.

“He’s had a really positive impact since joining the group, put pressure on us as selectors and he’s excited to get out there and perform on Sunday night.

“The match is also a huge occasion for our leader Michael Hooper. He’s been in phenomenal form and to equal George Gregan’s record for most tests as captain of Australia is a testament to his leadership and resilience.

“We also can’t overlook Allan and Reece, who will bring up 50 tests for their country, another outstanding achievement for two ultimate professionals who leave it all on the field every time they wear the jersey.”

Wallabies team to play the Springboks

1. Angus Bell
2. Folau Fainga’a
3. Allan Alaalatoa
4. Izack Rodda
5. Matt Philip
6. Lachlan Swinton
7. Michael Hooper (c)
8. Rob Valetini
9. Tate McDermott
10. Quade Cooper
11. Marika Koroibete
12. Samu Kerevi
13. Len Ikitau
14. Andrew Kellaway
15. Tom Banks

Reserves:

16. Feleti Kaitu’u*
17. James Slipper
18. Taniela Tupou
19. Rob Leota*
20. Pete Samu
21. Nic White
22. Reece Hodge
23. Jordan Petaia

* – denotes test debut

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Quade Cooper headlines five changes to Wallabies side for Springboks

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