SYDNEY (Reuters) – Quade Cooper will play his first test for more than four years on Sunday after being named as Wallabies flyhalf for the Rugby Championship test against South Africa on Australia’s Gold Coast.
The 33-year-old playmaker, whose last international start was against Argentina in October 2016, comes in for youngster Noah Lolesio, who has worn the number 10 shirt for Australia’s six tests this year.
Coach Dave Rennie has rolled the dice on Cooper after three successive losses to the All Blacks over the last couple of months, the last two giving the Wallabies the worst possible start to their Rugby Championship campaign.
With James O’Connor back in the squad after injury but not yet fit enough to play, and Matt Toomua no longer considered an option at flyhalf, Rennie is banking on Cooper to get his backline moving.
The backs remained otherwise unchanged with Rennie choosing to give error-prone fullback Tom Banks another chance.
In the forwards, Angus Bell will make his first test start at loosehead prop, while Izack Rodda also steps up from the bench to partner Matt Philip in the second row.
Hooker Feleti Kaitu’u and flanker Rob Leota look set to make their test debuts after being named on the bench.
World champions South Africa named their team on Wednesday, recalling number eight Duane Vermeulen for his first test since his Man of the Match performance in the 2019 World Cup final.
Team: 15-Tom Banks, 14-Andrew Kellaway, 13-Len Ikitau, 12-Samu Kerevi, 11-Marika Koroibete, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Tate McDermott, 8-Rob Valetini, 7-Michael Hooper, 6-Lachie Swinton, 5-Matt Philip, 4-Izack Rodda, 3-Allan Alaalatoa, 2-Folau Fainga’a, 1-Angus Bell
Replacements: 16-Feleti Kaitu’u, 17-James Slipper, 18-Taniela Tupou, 19-Rob Leota, 20-Pete Samu, 21-Nic White, 22-Reece Hodge, 23-Jordan Petaia
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)
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