Cooper makes sensational Wallabies return as Hooper equals record, Retallick to lead All Blacks

By Sports Desk September 09, 2021

Quade Cooper will make a remarkable return for the Wallabies after being named to play for the first time since 2017 when Australia face South Africa on Sunday.

Cooper had been part of Australia's squad for the Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand, but was not used in any of the three Tests which the All Blacks comfortably won.

Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has rolled the dice for the Rugby Championship showdown against South Africa on the Gold Coast, with 33-year-old Cooper named at fly-half, displacing 21-year-old Noah Lolesio.

Cooper's career has taken several turns since his last cap in 2017 against Italy, frozen out at Brad Thorn's Reds in Super Rugby, before a one-year stint at the Rebels and a move to play in Japan in 2019.

"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," Rennie said.

Angus Bell will earn his first start in the front-row, while Izack Rodda also comes into the starting line-up, with the backline unchanged.

Wallabies hooker Feleti Kaitu'u and back-rower Rob Leota are in line for debuts off the bench.

The match will see Australia captain Michael Hooper equal George Gregan's record for most Tests as Wallabies skipper when he steps out for the 59th time.

Meanwhile, Brodie Retallick has been named as captain for New Zealand after a head knock to Ardie Savea ahead of their Test against Argentina on Sunday.

Hooker Asafo Aumua will make his first Test start for the All Blacks, while prop Joe Moody returns following foot surgery via the bench.

"Brodie is a great leader in this team and we don't take his leadership for granted," said All Blacks coach Ian Foster. "We think this is a great honour for him, and he and his family can be hugely proud. 

"He's playing really well and leads from the front. He has come back into the black jersey this year and just picked up where he left off.

"He also has an experienced partner in Beaudy [Barrett] alongside him who is bringing a calmness to the team and a sense of direction and we’re seeing that in the way he plays."

 

Australia: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Tate McDermott; Angus Bell, Folau Fainga'a, Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Matt Philip, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Rob Valetini.
Replacements: Feleti Kaitu'u, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, George Bridge, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Karl Tu'inukuafe, Asafo Aumua, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Luke Jacobson.
Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Joe Moody, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa'I, Ethan Blackadder, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Rieko Ioane.

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    Moodie was included in a 34-man squad on Monday for two Rugby Championship encounters with the Wallabies.

    The 19-year-old gets the nod in the absence of suspended wing Kurt-Lee Arendse and fellow flyer Cheslin Kolbe, who is recovering from a broken jaw.

    Deon Fourie has also been selected, with hooker Bongi Mbonambi facing four weeks on the sidelines due to a knee injury sustained in training last week.

    The world champions are smarting from a 35-23 defeat to New Zealand at Ellis Park on Saturday and will get an opportunity to respond at Adelaide Oval on August 27, with Australia also licking their wounds following a 48-17 drubbing at the hands of Argentina.

    Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber said: "Bongi has been ruled out for four weeks, but Deon, who is an experienced hooker and flank, has been practising his lineout throws with us, so we are confident that he will be able to fill that void for us in these matches.

    "We are also excited to see how Canan slots in during the next few weeks and to see how he adapts to our structures and systems, and we believe he has the skills to slot in for Kurt-Lee and Cheslin.

    "This is a settled group of players and includes a wide spread of experience and young players who have made their presence felt, and we believe that they have what it takes to guide us back on track in the Rugby Championship in the matches against Australia."

     

    South Africa squad to tour Australia: 

    Forwards: Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Joseph Dweba, Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Salmaan Moerat, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Elrigh Louw, Kwagga Smith, Jasper Wiese, Duane Vermeulen, Deon Fourie, Franco Mostert.

    Backs: Faf de Klerk, Jaden Hendrikse, Herschel Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Elton Jantjies, Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Willie le Roux, Canan Moodie, Warrick Gelant, Damian Willemse, Jesse Kriel, Frans Steyn.

     

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    Dean Elgar is determined to "throw a bit more respect into the badge" when South Africa face "beatable" England in a three-match Test series.

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    South Africa are also sitting pretty at the top of the World Test Championship table and are third in the rankings ahead of an opening match against Ben Stokes' side that starts at Lord's on Wednesday.

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    Elgar says South Africa will not cross the line with the verbals, but expects words to be exchanged in the middle.

    "In the heat of battle, there's always something that comes out," he said. "Let's put it that way. I just want to play three really, really hard Test matches and go out there and put the badge on the line and throw a bit more respect into the badge."

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    New Zealand had lost five of their past six Tests - and three in a row - before stopping the rot in Johannesburg.

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    He said on Sunday: "We've been having conversations right through this time, we believe we know where we stand and we've just got to work through that with him.

    "We'll take stock of the conversations, the information coming out of the camp and comment later in the week."

    Robinson added: "These have been challenging times right through the last few weeks. There is a huge amount of passion and speculation, a huge amount of expectation around the team and organisation, and we need to take the time we've got to set this team up for everything it needs to be successful."

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    "I certainly feel that I have the support and backing of the All Blacks," he said.

    "There's still processes New Zealand Rugby want to go through. To coach this team, you have to have categoric support."

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