Quade Cooper recalled to Wallabies squad

Last updated 12:50 26/07/2013
Quade Cooper
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
QUADE BACK: Queensland Reds first five-eighth Quade Cooper has been recalled by the Wallabies ahead of the Rugby Championship.

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Queensland Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper has returned to the Wallabies set up after being included in new coach Ewen McKenzie's first training squad for the international Rugby Championship series against South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina.

Cooper, overlooked by former coach Robbie Deans for Australia's recent 2-1 series defeat to the British and Irish Lions, is among 11 Queensland players in the 40-man squad named Friday and rejoins Reds scrumhalf Will Genia and captain James Horwill.

Kurtley Beale, fullback for the Lions series, was not considered due to a shoulder injury, while Deans' flyhalf choice James O'Connor was included as a fullback or winger.

Deans persevered with O'Connor at No. 10 against the Lions despite his inexperience in the key playmaking position and backlash from critics.

But McKenzie said he sees the young utility as an outside back and has included four other flyhalf options in the squad including Cooper, who was fined and then shunned after his public comments about the "toxic" environment in the Wallabies camp at the end of 2012.

As well as Beale, regular Wallabies Wycliff Palu, David Pocock, Digby Ioane, Pat McCabe and Scott Higginbotham were not included owing to injuries.

The squad will reduced to 30 players on Aug. 9 ahead of the first test against New Zealand at Sydney on Aug. 17.

McKenzie, who coached Queensland to the 2011 Super Rugby title and into the playoffs this season, was appointed Australia coach earlier this month after Deans quit with six months remaining on his contract.

The former Australian World Cup-winning prop signaled the Wallabies would be taking a new approach under his stewardship.

"We'll have some different thoughts and ideas about how we go about it," he said. "The reality is we've got to challenge ourselves to do things differently otherwise the outcomes will remain the same.

"We'll be able to go into that first game in our own backyard, in front of a full house, with some element of surprise. I don't think that's a bad situation."

ACT Brumbies halves pairing Matt Toomua and Nic White were among 10 uncapped players included in the squad, along with Queensland backrower Jake Schatz and Melbourne Rebels lock Hugh Pyle.

"At this stage it's important that as many players as possible gain exposure to our program and that everyone is receiving an opportunity to push their case for selection before we narrow down our squad," McKenzie said.

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McKenzie said he also gave priority to players who are signed to the Australian Rugby Union for 2014 and beyond, with many tough selection decisions favoring those players available for the long term.

Wallabies squad: Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Peter Betham, Quade Cooper, Nick Cummins, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Anthony Faingaa, Saia Faingaa, Scott Fardy, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Liam Gill, Mike Harris, Michael Hooper, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Peter Kimlin, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali'ifano, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Jesse Mogg, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, James O'Connor, Nick Phipps, Tatafu Polota Nau, Hugh Pyle, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Jake Schatz, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White.

- AP

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