Bar­bar­ians game a se­lec­tion trial for Wal­la­bies squad: Cheika

NT News - - SPORT - IAIN PAYTEN

QUADE Cooper could have “very eas­ily” been se­lected to play for the Wal­la­bies against the Bar­bar­ians, but cap­tain­ing the in­vi­ta­tional team against Aus­tralia will give the Queens­land star a bet­ter chance to press his claims for a Test re­call, coach Michael Cheika says.

Cheika re­vealed the Walla- bies-Bar­bar­ians match on Oc­to­ber 28 would be viewed as a se­lec­tion trial for spots on the Spring Tour.

He said he would hold off nam­ing the squad for the Wal­la­bies five-match tour of Ja­pan and Europe un­til a day af­ter Aus­tralia clash with the Bar­bar­ians at Al­lianz Sta­dium, so it serves as a le­git­i­mate trial.

Alan Jones’ Bar­bar­ians squad con­tains a hand­ful of fringe Wal­la­bies play­ers and Cheika is also set to use the game as a chance to up­grade his bench-sit­ters and re­serve squad mem­bers into start­ing roles.

“This is a huge op­por­tu­nity,” Cheika said. “We won’t be pick­ing the tour­ing squad un­til Sun­day af­ter the Bar­bar­ians game to give that op­por­tu­nity to those play­ers. This is a great op­por­tu­nity for guys to make their case for se­lec­tion go­ing for­ward.”

Ar­guably the player with the most to prove is Cooper, who has been over­looked by Cheika this win­ter.

Jones made him cap­tain of the Bar­bar­ians but Cheika re­vealed he’d been think­ing of us­ing Cooper him­self; pre­sum­ably due to a plan to rest Bernard Fo­ley and Kurt­ley Beale.

“In all hon­esty, he prob­a­bly could have been play­ing for us very eas­ily here,” he said. “We could have maybe said come and play with us but I think it is ac­tu­ally a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity for him to show his wares against us. I know how he will want to play the game and that’s go­ing to be a chal­lenge for us.

With the Wal­la­bies em­bark­ing on a gru­elling run of seven straight games be­gin­ning next week­end in Bledis­loe III in Bris­bane, Cheika will have to man­age his play­ers care­fully, but he said he wouldn’t go over­board.

“We will look at def­i­nitely giv­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to play­ers who haven’t started matches,” he said.

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