Rugby

Cooper's absence leaves gap

2014-05-20 10:46
Quade Cooper (Getty Images)

Sydney - The loss of Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper for four months to a shoulder injury has left Australia looking a bit threadbare in a position where they have traditionally boasted an embarrassment of riches.

Cooper has started the last 10 matches for the Wallabies, having revived his test career after being dropped for last year's British and Irish Lions series and starting the first two matches of the Ewen McKenzie era on the bench.

Wallabies coach McKenzie names his squad for June's three-match series against France on Thursday and now has just one player available who has started a Test in the number 10 jersey and is currently playing flyhalf in Super Rugby.

The good news is that Matt Toomua, who won his first two caps as playmaker in thumping defeats to the All Blacks last year, was the form Australian flyhalf in Super Rugby even before Cooper was injured.

The bad news, on the face of it, is that behind him now as a specialist there lies probably only Bernard Foley, who has been in fine form for the New South Wales Waratahs but has played only 15 minutes at flyhalf in four Tests.

By contrast, in the run-up to last year's Lions series, Cooper was just one of a string of options available to then coach Robbie Deans with Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Berrick Barnes, Christian Leali'ifano all also genuine contenders.

O'Connor got the nod but his test career imploded on the back of a string of off-field incidents and he has appropriately played his rugby in England this season with the Exiles - London Irish.

Barnes, who played 12 of his 51 Tests at flyhalf, has also departed Australian shores, in his case for Japan, while Leali'ifano and Beale have been playing in the centres for their Super Rugby teams this season.

More good news for McKenzie, though, is the versatility of the modern Australian back and the form of Beale after a largely miserable year on and off the field in 2013.

Beale, who has started seven of his 39 Tests as pivot, effectively plays as one of two first receivers at the Waratahs with Foley and his combination with the prolific Israel Folau has been one of the highlights of the campaign.

With Leali'ifano operating in a similar role alongside Toomua at the Brumbies, McKenzie should be able to wear the absence of his former charge at the Reds without too many problems.

In fact, with Toomua in good form and Cooper and the Reds struggling this season, the injury may conceivably have spared McKenzie a tricky conversation with his incumbent number 10.

Read more on:    wallabies  |  quade cooper  |  rugby
NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

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
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Sport Talk

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
Vote

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee remains defiant, saying he won't resign despite a shambolic two years at the helm. Your thoughts?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

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