Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has insisted that Quade Cooper’s selection is not a sign of panic within Australia’s squad.
Cooper will win his first test cap for the Wallabies in over four years when he starts against the Springboks on Sunday in their third round Rugby Championship encounter.
Australia were beaten convincingly in their last three tests against New Zealand with young fly-half Noah Lolesio at number 10, and Rennie has backed Cooper to improve the side’s fortunes against world champions South Africa.
Rennie was speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald about Cooper’s return to the team and insisted that the 33-year-old deserves to start off the back of his performances in training.
Dave Rennie on Quade Cooper.
“He’s certainly earned it. I can’t speak highly enough of him. We had a good chat with Quade [Cooper] prior to him coming in [to the squad],” Rennie said.
“A lot of my knowledge of Quade was what I had read in the paper previously but he’s been outstanding. He’s earned the opportunity. We’re picking on what we know and what we see.
“There’s certainly no panic. Some guys are selected on recent test matches and for Quade, it’s been training. He’s trained really well, he was very close to selection last week and got the nod this week.
“We think he’s the right man to help get us around the park.”
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Wallabies look to break down sturdy Springboks defence.
While it has been some time since Cooper last played international rugby, the fly-half has always received high praise for his ability to open up opposition defences.
South Africa have arguably the best defence in international rugby at the moment, having conceded just three tries in their last six games.
The British and Irish Lions found the Springboks’ defence extremely difficult to break through, although the introduction of Finn Russell in the third test certainly improved the tourists’ attacking shape.
The Wallabies will hope Cooper can have a similar effect to Russell against the Springboks, who were made to work much harder against the Lions in defence with the Scotsman at fly-half.