Quade gets return shot
QUADE Cooper can shut out Bernard Foley as Australia’s top- choice playmaker all the way to the Rugby World Cup if he conquers tonight’s first perform- or- perish mission.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika yesterday said there was no cunning rotation plan for his players or even the time for one with a five- Test sprint to the World Cup in Britain.
The message from Cheika was this – five- star performers against South Africa in Brisbane in tonight’s game two of The Rugby Championship will keep their Test spots.
Cooper has started at No. 10 in 13 of the 44 Tests played by the Wallabies since his fraught role at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
Foley started nearly as many ( 12) as an improving chief playmaker at flyhalf last year.
“In rugby, opportunities come and then it’s about a player taking them,” Cheika said. ‘‘ Sometimes that then sticks if he keeps taking them.”
Cheika said Cooper’s inclusion at Suncorp Stadium instead of Foley and Matt Toomua was unanimous from the team’s four selection voices but did give special weight to backs coach Steve Larkham.
“We felt they ( Cooper and halfback Will Genia) were the guys to do the job in this Test against South Africa with the variations they bring,” Cheika said.
“It was a very, very difficult call ( on flyhalf) so obviously Bernard is there or thereabouts.’’
Cheika diluted what he most want to see tonight into “passion” – passion to hit hard with teammates in support, run hard with allies and to fight hard from tight corners as a team.
“Intensity and physicality have probably been the themes from ‘ Cheik’,” skipper Stephen Moore said.
“It’s almost a relief to go out and play.
“We’ve talked enough about the identity we want to establish with the Wallabies and this is the first opportunity to show what we really stand for.”
Moore was delighted that former Wallabies captains John Eales and Michael Lynagh rang to wish him well and the team for the direction it is taking.
The coalition of one- time enemy coaching minds from the NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies was “like Liberal and Labor joining forces,” Cheika said playfully of linking with Larkham.
Cheika was upbeat about No. 8 Scott Higginbotham and lock Rob Simmons performing to the pack’s new standards.
New Zealand defeated Argentina 39- 18 in yesterday’s tournament opener at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium after leading 18- 6 at halftime.