Cooper Is Back For The Aussies
New Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has ended the ill-fated James O’Connor experiment at No.10 by recalling forgotten man Quade Cooper to a 40-man training squad ahead of next month’s Rugby Championship.
Former Australian coach Robbie Deans persisted with O’Connor at No.10 throughout the recent series loss to the touring British and Irish Lions, despite heavy criticism over his impact in the role.
But McKenzie has moved quickly to put his own stamp on the team, indicating O’Connor will be seen as an outside back once again.
Asked if he views O’Connor as a winger/fullback, McKenzie said: “That is where I see him primarily.
“I think he can play a bunch of positions.”
The most recent of Cooper’s 38 Tests was against Argentina 10 months ago, but since then he had been regularly overlooked by Deans – and infamously labelled the Wallabies set-up as “toxic”.
McKenzie, who has coached Cooper at Super Rugby level and remains one of the troubled playmaker’s biggest supporters, said the 25-year-old wouldn’t necessarily be rushed back into a starting role.
“Everyone talks about Quade but what I am interested in is depth,” he said.
“The pecking order might change in a week’s time. I am not fixed on who will start. What I want is pressure on positions.”
Veteran lock James Horwill will captain the team, which will be culled to a final squad of up to 30 players by August 9 ahead of the opening Bledisloe Cup clash with New Zealand on August 17.
Wallabies Squad: Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Peter Betham, Quade Cooper, Nick Cummins, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Anthony Faingaa, Saia Faingaa, Scott Fardy, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Liam Gill, Mike Harris, Michael Hooper, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Peter Kimlin, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali’ifano, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Jesse Mogg, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, James O’Connor, Nick Phipps, Tatafu Polota Nau, Hugh Pyle, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Jake Schatz, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua,