Barbarians game a selection trial for Wallabies squad: Cheika
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.