Rugby Championship

Cooper back, Beale dropped

2012-08-23 07:26
Quade Cooper (File)

Sydney - The mercurial Quade Cooper was on Thursday recalled to the Wallabies side to face the All Blacks on Saturday, but Kurtley Beale was axed after an error-strewn performance last weekend.

Cooper failed to make the bench for the opening Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand in Sydney, but has been promoted to starting flyhalf, with Berrick Barnes shifting to inside centre.

His inclusion in the starting line-up comes at the expense of Beale after a sloppy performance last Saturday, characterised by basic handling errors and missed one-on-one tackles.

Cooper fell short of expectations at the World Cup last year and he could receive a hostile reception at Eden Park after being accused of cheap shots on All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

But he may also help reignite the Wallaby attack and give them more kicking options, although Barnes will retain those key duties after an impressive run of form which has seen him kick 19 of 23 attempts in Test matches this year.

"All I want to say is, I'm back. I'm fit, healthy, I'm ready to go," Cooper told reporters, before abruptly leaving a media conference with no further comment.

The Wallabies need all the help they can get to avenge their opening 27-19 defeat with skipper David Pocock and prop Sekope Kepu both sidelined by injury.

Hooker Tatafu Polota Nau also ruled himself out of contention with a buttock strain following a training run on Thursday.

This opened the door for Stephen Moore, who will play his 72nd Test and celebrate becoming Australia's most capped Test hooker alongside Jeremy Paul.

"It's not ideal but it's a mature decision that Tatafu has made," coach Robbie Deans said.

"We are in the fortunate position of having good depth at hooker -- the fact that we are bringing in a player who is about to become Australia's leading hooker in terms of Test appearances highlights that."

Other changes to the forward pack will see Ben Alexander slotting in at tighthead for Kepu, while Michael Hooper will run from Pocock's spot on the openside flank.

Will Genia captains the side for only the second time, becoming Australia's third skipper for the year, after first choice James Horwill was injured on the eve of the June Test window.

In the backline, the versatile Adam Ashley-Cooper switches from wing to fullback while Drew Mitchell will take his position.

Mitchell, who last appeared for Australia against Russia at the World Cup, was an unused substitute on the bench last week.

The selectors opted to hold off finalising their substitutes due to Polota Nau's injury concern, but Beale is expected to be among them.

Teams:

New Zealand:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ma'a Nonu, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Wyatt Crockett

Substitutes: 16-Andrew Hore, 17-Ben Franks, 18-Brodie Retallick, 19-Victor Vito, 20-Piri Weepu, 21-Aaron Cruden, 22-Ben Smith

Australia:

15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson

Reserves: TBA

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