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The vital Bledisloe Cup role Quade Cooper could play for Wallabies

By Sam Smith

Trending on RugbyPass

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Ex-All Blacks hooker James Parsons believes returning Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper could provide Australia with a pivotal off-field role in the lead-up to the Bledisloe Cup series.

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Cooper was a shock re-call into the Australian national squad a week ago as Dave Rennie’s side prepares for their Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship campaigns, which begins next Saturday at Eden Park in Auckland.

Cooper, who last played for Australia in 2017, travelled with the Wallabies to Auckland on Friday ahead of their opening clash against the All Blacks, although it remains to be seen whether he will feature in Rennie’s match day side.

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According to Parsons, Cooper’s influence on the playing group will be strongly felt regardless of whether he plays or not.

Speaking on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod earlier this week, the former two-test rake said he anticipates Cooper will play a vital role in preparing the Wallabies to face the All Blacks – a fixture the first-five has become familiar with over his extensive career.

Many of Cooper’s most memorable moments, both good and bad, have come while playing for the Wallabies against his nation of birth, and Parsons said that could prove to be valuable for Australia’s younger and inexperienced figures.

“I think he’s got a massive role to play in terms of prepping the team that’s going to play,” Parsons told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

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“I just think it’s so underappreciated publicly, but giving someone like Quade of his experience – understanding playing the All Blacks, what it’s like at Eden Park, he’s been through the good and the bad – the reins to run the ‘All Blacks’, as such, at training and do the research… He’s a true professional in terms of his preparation.

“Having him orchestrating that at training is only going to better prepare them to perform on the weekend.

“He’ll be used, I believe, like a mentor and I suppose a voice of experience for guys like Noah [Lolesio], James O’Connor to come back in, and allow them to just focus on Australia and the way they play.

“He’ll be taking the guys that are outside that 23 to really hone in and bring a level of intensity at training that is going to have them humming come Saturday and almost know what to expect before they get out there against the All Blacks.

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“Of course you can’t orchestrate it perfectly, but he’s hungry to train, he’s hungry to be involved, and that to me would be a role that would just be perfectly-suited for someone with his experience, but also his want to have another crack.”

Maori All Blacks halfback Bryn Hall shared similar sentiments as he expressed the importance of having an experienced leader within Australia’s ranks.

“I think we’ve talked about how good experience is,” the veteran Crusaders halfback told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“Not too sure what the injury scenario is with James O’Connor and [Matt] To’omua as well, but I think any time you can get a player with that kind of experience that’s played a lot of caps for the Wallabies, it can only help a guy like Noah Lolesio.”

Hall drew comparisons of Cooper’s role within the Wallabies to that of Morne Steyn, who has been re-called into the Springboks squad for the British and Irish Lions series after a five-year hiatus.

“We’ve talked about it with Morne Steyn coming back to help [Handre] Pollard and that as well,” Hall said.

“I think having a guy with that kind of experience, who’s played in big matches and has a pretty good understanding of what it looks like in big matches, it’s only going to help Noah when they give him the reins.

“If they feel like they want to go in a different direction with experience, they’ve got a guy like Quade Cooper who’s done a lot in that Wallabies jersey.”

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The vital Bledisloe Cup role Quade Cooper could play for Wallabies

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