Quade Cooper fit, ready for Wallabies recall

DARREN WALTON
Last updated 21:18 25/07/2013
Quade Cooper
Getty Images
BOX SEAT: Quade Cooper is expected to get the nod at No 10 but will have Matt Toomua and Bernard Foley breathing down his neck.

Relevant offers

International

Juan Martin Hernandez back in Argentina team Juan Smith named to start for the Springboks French whistler holds key - to scrum and match Sam Carter's father keeping advice to himself Wallaby Nathan Charles happy to earn respect Wallabies ready for ABs forwards' resurgence Corey Flynn 'impatient' to start with Toulouse Brad Thorn signs at English rugby club Leicester Will Skelton returning to Auckland as a Wallaby More of the same for Wallabies at Eden Park

Quade Cooper says he is fitter, stronger and mentally in a better place ahead of his recall to the Wallabies fold on Friday.

Cooper will return to the national ranks for the first time since last September when Ewen McKenzie, the mercurial playmaker's No 1 ally, names his maiden squad as new Wallabies coach on Friday morning.

McKenzie will cast his net wide by naming a 40-man squad for the four-nation Rugby Championship starting next month with Australia's eagerly-awaited first Bledisloe Cup clash with New Zealand in Sydney.

McKenzie said when ushered in as Robbie Deans' successor earlier this month that he was unlikely to make radical changes early in his tenure.

But bringing Cooper back in from the international wilderness will be his first major statement.

"I hope so," Cooper told Fox Sports on Thursday.

"The squad is still to be announced and hopefully my name will be up there with the rest of the boys.

"It will be exciting to be involved with the Wallabies again. But I'm not taking anything for granted."

The 25-year-old's most recent of his 38 Tests, which all came under Deans, was against Argentina on the Gold Coast 10 months ago.

He hasn't featured since injuring his knee and then being fined $40,000 and receiving a ban for three matches - a penalty suspended for two years - for infamously labelling the Wallabies' set-up as "toxic".

Deans overlooked Cooper for the Wallabies' 2-1 series loss to the British and Irish Lions but, with James O'Connor's immediate playing future in Australia up in the air, Cooper looms as Australia's first-choice five-eighth in the Rugby Championship.

"I feel a lot fitter and I'm 100 per cent healthy," Cooper said.

"I had a fair bit of niggly knee injuries at the stage that I last played for the Wallabies, so I feel in a good spot.

"I've learnt a fair bit about myself, especially about hard work and attitude. Those things go a long way on and off the field.

"The harder you work off the field, the more it shows on the field."

O'Connor, Australia's incumbent No 10, remains without a contract for the 2014 Super Rugby competition after being shown the door by the Melbourne Rebels.

Just where he and fellow former Rebel without a club Kurtley Beale, who, like O'Connor, has repeatedly been disciplined for off-field breaches this year, fit in McKenzie's plans remain to be seen.

McKenzie is expected to include both wayward Wallabies in his initial 40-man squad, but it would be no surprise if the pair miss selection for the first Test against the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium in three weeks.

Ad Feedback

McKenzie indicated this week he would only pick 100 per cent fit and healthy players, meaning the likes of first-choice winger Digby Ioane and No 8 Wycliff Palu may be overlooked.

Classy forwards David Pocock, Scott Higginbotham, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Sitaleki Timani are all unavailable due to long-term injuries.

- AAP

Special offers
Opinion poll

Which rugby player who's off overseas would you most like to see back playing in NZ?

Brad Thorn

Corey Flynn

Gareth Anscombe

Piri Weepu

Andre Taylor

Jack Lam

Alapati Leiua

George Whitelock

Jarrad Hoeata

Zac Guildford

Chris Noakes

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content