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Fans: Pick Cooper, not Foley

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Quade Cooper's omission from the Wallabies squad sparks heated fly-half debate

Two of the most interesting stories in this Super Rugby season have been the comebacks of fly-halves Christian Leali’ifano and Quade Cooper. 

This was Leali’ifano’s comeback season in southern hemisphere rugby after being diagnosed with leukemia in August 2016, while Cooper returned to Super Rugby with the Rebels after being completely dropped from the Reds last season and forced to play club rugby. 

As the season progressed, both players staked legitimate claims to be selected for the Wallabies. Cooper started the season in sensational form, as the Rebels soared to the top end of the table. However, their season – and his – lost momentum and spiralled out of control. 

Conversely, Leali’ifano’s season went from strength to strength, as he guided the Brumbies to the semi-finals. Consequently, he has got the nod from Michael Cheika alongside Bernard Foley to represent Australia again this Rugby Championship at the expense of Cooper. 

Many fans are dismayed by this decision, believing Cooper should be a part of the squad. While his form did drop towards the end of the season, many feel the 70-cap international’s showings at the beginning of the season were good enough to be selected, with the additional bonus of his club partnership with Will Genia. 

However, the consensus seems to be that Cooper should not be selected at the expense of Leali’ifano but rather Foley. The Waratah has been a favourite of Cheika’s over the past four years and it would be a major statement to drop him now, but the fans feel he has not warranted a place this season. 

The Waratahs had a dismal Super Rugby campaign and Foley failed to sparkle. He has never been the most adventurous or attacking fly-half, which seems to go against the DNA of the Wallabies. 

However, he has always been the dependable option for Cheika during his tenure as head coach. This is what the fans have said: 

Cheika has gone with just the two fly-halves, presumably looking at Matt Toomua as a back-up option or even Kurtley Beale. 

This is unlikely to be the squad for the World Cup, as injuries occur and some players come back from spells on the sidelines, but it is an indication of what is to come. While it was a dream comeback season for Leali’ifano, Cooper fell just short. 

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Quade Cooper's omission from the Wallabies squad sparks heated fly-half debate