Door still open for Cooper

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

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

Cheika re­vealed the Wal­la­bies- 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 Syd­ney’s Al­lianz Sta­dium, so that it served as a le­git­i­mate trial.

“This is a huge tu­nity,” Cheika said.

Bar­bar­ians coach Alan Jones made Cooper cap­tain of his side, but Cheika re­vealed that he had been think­ing of us­ing Cooper him­self.

“In all hon­esty, he prob­a­bly could have been play­ing for us very eas­ily here,” he said. op­por- KARMICHAEL Hunt is con­fi­dent a much- im­proved Wal­la­bies out­fit can beat New Zealand in next week’s rugby Test and that he can re­turn to play a part.

The util­ity will play the sec­ond game in his come­back from an­kle surgery for Na­tional Rugby Cham­pi­onship out­fit Bris­bane City to­mor­row be­fore he joins the Wal­la­bies squad for Saturday week’s Bledis­loe C Cup dead rub­ber.

Hunt ( left) in­sisted he was ready to be thrown into bat­tle if called on by Wal­la­bies coach Michael Cheika de­spite hav­ing only 40 min­utes of club rugby un­der his belt since surgery.

“There were no lin­ger­ing ef­fects, no in- game ef­fects ( in the come­back game) and I’m def­i­nitely con­fi­dent in where I’m at right now,” Hunt said.

Af­ter play­ing his way into Cheika’s first- choice side, Hunt was a late with­drawal from Aus­tralia’s squad for the open­ing Bledis­loe Cup clash in Au­gust.

The All Blacks racked up their big­gest score against their tra­di­tional ri­vals, pre­vail­ing 54- 34 af­ter lead­ing 54- 6.

Since then the Wal­la­bies have beaten Ar­gentina twice, drawn twice with South Africa, and came within min­utes of a rare Bledis­loe Cup win on New Zealand soil in a heart­break­ing 35- 29 Dunedin de­feat.

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