Cooper out, Barnes in for Oz

2012-08-14 07:38

Sydney - Quade Cooper was left out of Australia's team for the opening Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand on Saturday, with Berrick Barnes retaining his place and Dave Dennis getting a start.

Cooper has missed Australia's past five Tests since surgery for a knee injury suffered in the bronze medal showdown at last year's Rugby World Cup, and missed out again, not even making the bench for the Bledisloe Cup match.

While the Reds star has played five Super Rugby games since returning, coach Robbie Deans said he was not yet fit enough for international duty, but kept the door open.

"Anyone can play a Test, but how well is the thing. Quite obviously he isn't at the top of his fitness yet," Deans told reporters.

"He has been training with us for two of the three weeks. He has had a couple of club games, which is good. He is working hard.

"I've got no doubt he'll get an opportunity again, absolutely," he added.

Cooper's omission allows Barnes, who was man of the match in consecutive Tests against Wales this year, to keep the No 10 jersey as flyhalf, working outside halfback and newly appointed vice-captain Will Genia.

"Berrick played very well through June... so it was pretty straightforward," Deans said.

A second Test starting role for Dennis, a move from the side to the back of the scrum for Scott Higginbotham and a return to a starting midfield position for Anthony Faingaa represent the only changes to the starting line-up.

Higginbotham, who started at blindside flank during Australia's last outing, when they shaded Wales 20-19 in June, takes over from the injured Wycliff Palu at No 8.

That opens the way for Dennis, who made his debut against Scotland in June and then came off the bench during all three Tests against Wales.

"He's been great -- he's very consistent," Deans said of Dennis.

Coming off two three-day training camps, Deans opted to run the same backline as in the final Test against Wales, aside from Faingaa slotting in for the injured Pat McCabe.

As well as Barnes and Genia, Kurtley Beale retains his position at fullback and will be supported by the versatile Adam Ashley-Cooper and Digby Ioane in the back three.

Up front, the New Zealand-schooled Sitaleki Timani gets a chance to test himself against the All Blacks pack, alongside Sekope Kepu.

David Pocock skippers the side as the Wallabies look to win a Bledisloe Cup series outright for the first time since 2001.

The Rugby Championship, which introduces Argentina for the first time to the annual southern hemisphere competition that also includes South Africa, runs over six weekends from August 18 to October 6.

Teams:

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 David Pocock (captain) 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson

Substitutes: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 James Slipper, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Michael Hooper, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Drew Mitchell

New Zealand:

TBA

Read more on: berrick barnes rugby

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk
Most Read
Commented

Logs

Rank Team P W Pts

Results

05 October 2014
04 October 2014
27 September 2014
13 September 2014
06 September 2014
23 August 2014
16 August 2014
28 June 2014
21 June 2014
14 June 2014
07 June 2014
23 November 2013
17 November 2013
09 November 2013
05 October 2013
28 September 2013
14 September 2013
07 September 2013
24 August 2013
17 August 2013
22 June 2013
15 June 2013
08 June 2013

Opinion Poll

The Currie Cup is a thing of the past and attention now turns to the Springboks' end of year tour where they will play Ireland, England, Italy and Wales. How many Test will Heyneke Meyer's men win?

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.