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Springboks deliver a Finn Russell-like assessment of Quade Cooper

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Assistant Springboks coach Mzwandile Stick believes his team’s experience in facing the all-action style of Scotland’s Finn Russell in last month’s Test series decider versus the Lions was very useful now that they have to face a similar style opposition No10 in Australia’s Quade Cooper.

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Although a veteran of 70 Tests, Cooper has not played for the Wallabies since 2017 but Dave Rennie has given him the chance to run the show this Sunday by selecting the 33-year-old to start against the Springboks in the Rugby Championship on the Gold Coast.

It’s the sort of surprise selection that would leave opposition teams feeling very nervous about having to deal with the unexpected. However, the Springboks were given a perfect example regarding the threat a maverick-type player can bring just five weeks ago when Russell was flung into the Lions series decider in Cape Town.

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What Dave Rennie has been saying ahead of Sunday’s Wallabies versus Springboks clash

Injured for a large chunk of that tour, the Scottish out-half was thrown into the third Test fray as early as the eleventh minute due to the exit of first-choice No10 Dan Biggar with a shin injury and his presence seriously enlivened the style of the dreary Lions play, threatening the Springboks in a way that hadn’t previously happened in the series.

For the South Africans, it was a timely taste of the type of threat Cooper will now pose in what will be the Springboks’ first away Test match since their November 2019 World Cup final win over England in Tokyo.

“He is a world-class player,” said Springboks assistant Stick when quizzed on Saturday about the unpredictability Cooper will bring to the mix for the Wallabies. “We are going to have to respect him and make sure we don’t give him time and space to make decisions. He is more a similar player to a guy like Russell that we played against the British and Irish Lions with the ball in hand – we know the challenge that is coming.

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“They are going to try and keep the ball as long as possible and they are very dangerous with ball in hand. We have also worked very hard on our conditioning to make sure we can face the challenge. It has been a tough two weeks (since arriving in Australia). The boys have been working very hard and not only with Cooper on that side, if you look around they have got world-class players in that team. We are going to have to respect them and make sure that we pitch up.

“Australia are a world-class side. Don’t be mistaken by the results they have been getting. On a good day, they will punish any team. They have got guys like (Samu) Kerevi, Quade Cooper is very experienced and also the guys on the outside with a lot of speed, a guy like (Marika) Koroibete who if you give him time and space will punish you. It is going to be a tough day for us.”

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Springboks deliver a Finn Russell-like assessment of Quade Cooper

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