Quade gets re­turn shot

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JIM TUCKER

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.

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