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The story behind Cooper's and O'Connor's Wallabies resurgence

Quade Cooper and James O'Connor spent much of their early test careers together - and will likely finish them out in the same boat. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

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Strength of character and a fierce determination to return to the fold are among the reasons why Quade Cooper and James O’Connor are back in the Wallabies mix, says captain Michael Hooper.

The pair, who debuted in 2008, are now 13 years through their Wallabies journey and have faced bouts of omission from the national side.

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Can Argentina derail Australia’s Rugby Championship resurgence?
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But lessons learned overseas and away from the team have driven their growth, with their wisdom now quintessential in developing the young crop of Wallabies so ably led by Hooper.

“They’ve brought so much to the group for quite a short time that he’s been in and Rabs (James O’Connor) certainly before his injury, but since he’s come back from his injuries certainly adding a lot of direction around the backs” Hooper said on Friday.

“Quade obviously, there’s a fair bit talked about what he’s doing on the field, but off the field for some of our young fly-halves and the way we control and move a game around he’s been fantastic.

“The other thing is our coaching staff that are willing to introduce these guys back into the environment, give them a shot, it’s just that sport’s so great that it can do that and they’ve grabbed it.”


Cooper has been named to start his third consecutive test at five-eighth against Argentina on Saturday, with O’Connor’s reintroduction after a niggling groin injury sees him coming off the bench.

As the Wallabies look to build their depth and reinforce experience through all positions, Hooper added the duo’s seasoned knowledge was exactly what the national side needed.

“The luxury of Rabs is that he can play in so many positions, I mean it’s a good and a bad thing to have as a coach I guess when you’ve got depth in many positions,” he said.

“A lot of guys putting their hand up, finding the right combination, the balance between physicality, smarts, a bit of agility and X Factor is something that we’re going to have to work out and it’s a good problem to have.


“Quade’s certainly been great in terms of his leadership around the on-field control of the game. I think what’s been noticeable there is you know it’s time in the saddle.

“So often I think a 10 (five-eighth) all these guys have skill, but just it’s a time thing.

“He’s watched a lot of tape – you can imagine the hours of tape he’s watched compared to you know a second or third-year 10 – so time in the saddle is huge and experience in that role.”

The Wallabies will play their penultimate Rugby Championship test against Los Pumas in Townsville on Saturday before facing them again on the Gold Coast the following weekend.


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