Veteran Wallabies flyhalf Quade Cooper has responded to speculation that he could make his long-awaited Test comeback in Saturday’s match against the All Blacks.
Cooper was called up to the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship squad on a short-term basis as cover for the injured James O’Connor.
O’Connor is expected to return for Australia’s Tests against the Springboks and Argentina, meaning that Saturday’s third Bledisloe Cup Test could be Cooper’s big opportunity for a start.
The 33-year-old Cooper last played for the Wallabies in 2017, but head coach Davie Rennie hinted last week that he was pushing for a start in Perth.
“He’s been fantastic in the group. Can’t speak highly enough of him,” Rennie said.
“His ability for pass selection or kicking options has been spot on and it’s been really good, from a training perspective, for us.
“He’s pretty much been running the New Zealand play, so he’s been great, and he’s applying pressure on us for selection.”
Big hint for Wallabies’ team this weekend: Quade Cooper and Izack Rodda are doing media today.
— Paul Cully (@paulcullystuff) August 31, 2021
However, Cooper himself opted to downplay the talk that he could face his nation of birth for the first time since 2016.
“Nah, not yet, mate,” he answered when asked if Rennie has given him any indication that he will play.
“I think he keeps everybody on their toes. When we’re training, the teams are always quite mixed up.
“You look around and see where Hoops [Michael Hooper] or Marika [Koroibete] is and try and get some indication there, but other than that, the boys are just all fighting for spots.
“Rods [Izack Rodda] sort of alluded to the competition throughout the locks, the halves, and everywhere across the board.
“There’s some fantastic players here who are putting in a lot of work and a lot of effort to become better players and put their hands up for selection.”
Photo: EPA/DEAN LEWINS