Thursday, 5 September 2013

Cooper Returns to McKenzie's Gold

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Quade Cooper returns to the Wallabies starting side at fly-half on his home turf against the Springboks at Lang Park on Saturday.

Israel Folau has been switched to full-back replacing Jesse Mogg who drops back to the bench.

Cooper replaces Brumbies rookie Matt Toomua after starting on the bench in the past two Test losses against the All Blacks.

It will be the first time Cooper has worn the number 10 jersey since the Wallabies defeated South Africa and Argentina in back-to-back Tests last September.

Coach Ewen McKenzie said he is anticipating the match against the Springboks will suit Cooper's game.

"Quade has been contributing well for us playing off the bench," McKenzie told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday.

"Looking at how I want to play this this game, he's ideally suited to start this game."

Cooper said his return to the starting side has shown that hard work pays off.

"You just have to continue to work hard," Cooper said.

"I've been in and around the team for a few weeks coming off the bench. Now that I've been given a role as starting number 10 it's very exciting but Matty [Toomua) and Foles [Bernard Foley] will continue to push each other for the position.'

"If you miss out you just have to continue to help out and push each other

McKenzie said he expects the Springboks' dominant kicking game to play into the hands of Folau who is proving one of the most dangerous ball runners in rugby.

"With a player of his running ability the more times he touches the ball the better it is," McKenzie said.

"We think they'll kick a lot. So if they kick, he gets his hands on the ball and that is good.

"Maybe they won't kick as much, we'll see."

Folau has played his first five Tests for the Wallabies on the wing and isn't fazed by moving into the number 15 jersey where he played most of the Super Rugby season for the Waratahs.

"I think it will be easier to slot into the line at full-back but I don't see too much of a different role.

"I have a lot of good players around me who can help me."

In other changes Nick Cummins of the Western Force has been selected on the wing for his sixth Test for the Wallabies.

Sekope Kepu moves into the starting side at prop after starting the past five Tests on the bench.

Queensland's Jake Schatz has the opportunity to make his Wallabies debut after being selected on the bench.

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