Sonny Bill Williams has got his wish with Quade Cooper set to make a sensational comeback for the Wallabies on the Gold Coast on Sunday.
Two-time Rugby World Cup champion Williams said he was “baffled” by Cooper’s omission for Australia’s 38-21 loss to the All Blacks in Perth last weekend.
Young Noah Lolesio again struggled to assert himself at five-eighth and Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has finally lost patience ahead of the Rugby Championship clash with the world champion Springboks.
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Cooper, 33, hasn’t played a Test since 2017 but bolted back into the frame when Rennie added him to the squad as injury cover for James O’Connor.
“The non-selection that baffled me before the game was the non-selection of Quade Cooper,” Williams said on Stan Sport’s post-game coverage last weekend.
“I know that it might be biased coming from my lips, because I’m close to him but just from a rugby point of view, what he can add…
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“Brother Reece (Hodge), he’s Mr Fix-It, he’s a great player but I think in terms of unlocking this great All Blacks defence, Quade is your man.”
The full Wallabies team will be named later today.
Cooper’s selection completely changes the complexion of the backline with his experience and vast array of tricks.
The mercurial five-eighth now plays club rugby in Japan but will find space and opportunities much harder to come by against the notoriously stingy South Africa defence.
Cooper told reporters last week that he wasn’t fazed by being overlooked for selection.
“It hasn’t been a focus of mine at all.” Cooper said.
“I didn’t come into the squad thinking ‘I have to play a Test.
“If I can grow as a rugby player, take that back to Japan, that’s a great reward for myself.
“Anything else outside of that is a bonus.”
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Rennie said last week that Cooper went close to selection for the third Bledisloe Cup Test in Perth.
“We looked at the fact that he’s contributing really well, he’s training well as well,” Rennie said.
“We were keen to bring Samu (Kerevi) in, we thought a couple of changes in the inside backs for both guys who haven’t had a lot of time in the environment we thought that was too much.
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“We wanted to back Noah. He’s played a lot of good footy for us.
“There was a lot of discussion in and around that position because of the experience that Quade can bring.
“And again, he’s missed out on selection but he’s been fantastic.
“He’s contributing to training really well.”
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