Sydney - Injured Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper hopes to return towards the end of the Rugby Championship, but former flyhalf Stephen Larkham is already touting Matt Toomua as his replacement.
Cooper is due to undergo surgery this week after picking up a shoulder joint injury on Saturday when his Reds lost 30-27 to the Melbourne Rebels in Brisbane. Doctors will also clean up loose cartilage in his hip.
The injury ended Cooper's Super Rugby season and ruled him out of next month's three-Test series against France, with fears that he will also miss the entire Rugby Championship.
But he told Fox Sports late on Tuesday that he hopes to appear in the Wallabies' fourth Rugby Championship match against Argentina on the Gold Coast on September 13.
That means he would be available for the final three games in the Rugby Championship, as well as the Bledisloe Cup decider against New Zealand on October 18.
"(The Rugby Championship) is something I've got to keep in mind," he said.
"But at the same time ... it's a process I've got to take week by week, and how I heal is still yet to be seen.
"I'll be doing all the right things to put myself in a good position to get back into playing rugby as soon as possible."
Wallabies coach Ewen MacKenzie is due to announce his squad for the France series on Thursday, and Larkham wants him to pick Toomua of the Brumbies as Cooper's replacement.
"Even if Quade was there, I think Matty should be in front of him anyway," said Larkham, the Brumbies coach.
"I'd suggest that you'd have to go with current form of Super Rugby, which would indicate a strong combination from the Brumbies."
That means Larkham would like to see Christian Lealiifano next to Toomua at No.12 and then Tevita Kuridrani at outside centre.
As well as Toomua, Waratahs duo Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale are the contenders to take Cooper's spot for the opening Test against France on June 7.