Nic White will start at scrumhalf for Australia in their Rugby Championship clash with South Africa on Saturday in what will be a history-making match for skipper Michael Hooper.
The veteran flyhalf booted 23 points, including a last-gasp match winner, to seal a 28-26 upset for the Wallabies against the world champions after a shock recall for his first Test in four years on Sunday.
It was enough for coach Dave Rennie to keep faith in the 33-year-old for the return game in Brisbane despite James O’Connor, who usually fills the role, being fit again after being sidelined for all seven Australia Tests this year.
He didn’t even make the bench, nor did the 21-year-old Noah Lolesio, who played all six Tests at flyhalf before Cooper made his entrance, as Rennie resisted pressure to move O’Connor to fullback in place of the under-siege Tom Banks.
Experienced scrumhalf Nic White will start for the first time this season in place of Tate McDermott after starring as a replacement last week, when he forced the decisive penalty that enabled Cooper to win the game.
In other changes, tighthead prop Taniela Tupou comes in for Allan Alaalatoa, who has left for the birth of his child, while James Slipper returns to the starting side as loosehead prop.
“We were really proud of the effort from our men last Sunday and we’re well aware of the ferocity that a wounded Springboks outfit will bring to Suncorp Stadium,” Rennie said Thursday as Australia look to build on their first win of the campaign.
The game at Suncorp Stadium will be a landmark for Hooper, who will become the Wallabies’ most-capped skipper when he leads the side out for a 60th time in his 113th Test, surpassing George Gregan.
“It’s an incredible milestone for Hoops on Saturday evening in Brisbane and it’s a testament to him as a person and a player,” said Rennie.
“I’ve been so impressed with his leadership both on and off the field and his drive to be better every day.”
© Agence France-Presse
Wallabies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Jordan Petaia.