Cheika bites bul­let to dump buddy Quade from Wal­la­bies squad Ax­ing Cooper ‘ big call’

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMP­SON

QUADE Cooper’s roller­coaster rugby ca­reer has taken an­other down­ward turn, but Wal­la­bies coach Michael Cheika be­lieves the mer­cu­rial five- eighth can fight his way back into Test con­tention.

The 70- Test vet­eran was a shock omis­sion from the Wal­la­bies’ ex­tended train- on squad ahead of the Rugby Cham­pi­onship, start­ing on Au­gust 19 when the Wal­la­bies play New Zealand at ANZ Sta­dium.

Cheika named a 38- man squad of play­ers from the NSW Waratahs, Queens­land Reds, Mel­bourne Rebels and Western Force af­ter their Su­per Rugby sea­sons ended, with Brumbies to be added af­ter their elim­i­na­tion from the tour­na­ment. Cooper was spar­ingly used off the bench in the Wal­la­bies three June Test and Cheika hadn’t been im­pressed by his Su­per Rugby form.

“It was dif­fi­cult for me be­cause I’ve got a good re­la­tion­ship with him,” Cheika said.

“I feel I was pretty in­stru­men­tal in him com­ing back ( from Europe) so it was a big call for me. He was ob­vi­ously BE­ING pretty in pink sits just fine with the Townsville Heat and Flames, es­pe­cially when it’s all for a vi­tal cause.

The Queens­land Bas­ket­ball League teams are wear­ing spe­cial pink strips for next week­end’s home game against the Lo­gan Thun­der, and will hold a post- game auc­tion to raise funds for the Na­tional Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion.

The Heat and Flames, who play Glad­stone Port City Power at Towns- very dis­ap­pointed and you’d want him to be dis­ap­pointed, but I think he wanted to hear what I had to say to him so that he could get him­self back into the team.”

Asked if he was con­fi­dent Cooper could fight his way back Cheika said: “I think it’s def­i­nitely his char­ac­ter and what he’d do there.”

Cheika said he’s look­ing at Kurt­ley Beale as the back up to estab­lished five- eighth Bernard Fo­ley, though he’s pri­mar­ily look­ing at the util­ity back as an in­side cen­tre.

Cooper’s Reds’ team­mate, ville Bas­ket­ball Sta­dium to­mor­row night, want to get the word out early so sup­port­ers turn out in droves for their an­nual char­ity game.

“This cause is close to a lot of peo­ple in Aus­tralia and breast can­cer af­fects so many women and fam­i­lies each year, so we’re very proud to be get­ting be­hind the foun­da­tion,” Flames star Mia Mur­ray said.

“The more bot­toms on seats we get the bet­ter, and it will be fan­tas­tic to raise some money and more im­por­tantly more aware­ness.”

Heat im­port Jamell An­der­son said No. 8 Scott Hig­gin­botham, was also omit­ted de­spite start­ing in two of the three June Tests.

Cheika felt Hig­gin­botham needed to have more im­pact on those games.

“I think there were some things in par­tic­u­lar I wanted him to do, to bring to his game, to add to his game, to how he played with the Reds this sea­son,” Cheika said.

Beale, who re­cently ended a stint with English club Wasps, re­turns to a na­tional squad for the first time since the 2015 World Cup fi­nal. Locks Kane Du­glas and Rob Sim­mons, breast can­cer had a huge im­pact on com­mu­nity.

“Sadly there’s not too many peo­ple out there right now who don’t know some­one who’s deal­ing with it,” he said.

“It af­fects every­body, so to be a part of this cause is mas­sive.

“Ev­ery­one I’ve met here is re­ally nice and re­ally help­ful in ev­ery way, so hope­fully ev­ery­one can get be­hind it.”

Townsville Bas­ket­ball has been run­ning games to sup­port dif­fer­ent char­i­ties for many years as a club in- who were Aus­tralia’s start­ing locks in that game have also been re­called, along with Force props Pek Cowan and Tetera Faulkner.

Jer­maine Ains­ley, Adam Cole­man, Pek Cowan, Jack Dempsey, Kane Dou­glas, Sef Fa’agase, Tetera Faulkner, Ned Hani­gan, Richard Hard­wick, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu, Adam Kor­czyk, Tolu Latu, Sean McMa­hon, Stephen Moore ( c), Tatafu Polota- Nau, Tom Robert­son, Izack Rodda, Rob Sim­mons, Lopeti Ti­mani, Taniela Tupou, Jor­dan Ue­lese. Kurt­ley Beale, Is­rael Fo­lau, Bernard Fo­ley, Will Ge­nia, Dane Haylett- Petty, Reece Hodge, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroi­bete, Camp­bell Mag­nay, Billy Meakes, Eto Nab­uli, Sefa Naivalu, Izaia Perese, Nick Phipps, Cur­tis Rona. itia­tive, and devel­op­ment man­ager Greg Van­der­jagt said this year’s cause was close to home for many of the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s mem­bers.

“It’s a dis­ease and a cause that’s very close to a lot of our mem­bers, so it’s a chance to use our QBL pro­gram as a ve­hi­cle to drive aware­ness of breast can­cer and help with fund­ing for re­search,” he said.

“It’s go­ing to be a big night here at Townsville Bas­ket­ball, and we hope peo­ple will open their minds and open their pock­ets for the char­ity we’re sup­port­ing this year.”

Quade Cooper.

GREAT CAUSE: Townsville QBL play­ers Darcee Garbin, Mia Mur­ray, Justin Baker and Jamell An­der­son model the team’s pink strips which they will wear next week­end in sup­port of the Na­tional Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion. They are with sup­port­ers Kathy Ker­lin and D

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