Rugby

Wallabies recall Cooper, bench Pocock

2015-08-13 07:02
Quade Cooper (AFP)

Sydney - Australia have recalled Quade Cooper and rested David Pocock from their twin openside flank weapon among six changes in the side to face the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday.

After beating New Zealand last week in Sydney to claim the Rugby Championship, the Wallabies are now aiming to win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in 13 years and end a 39-year losing streak at Eden Park.

But with one eye on the bigger prize of the World Cup, starting in England next month, coach Michael Cheika has put last week's 27-19 victory behind him and made wholesale changes to test the depth of his squad.

"We know this week will be another huge challenge for the team and our biggest test to date, and we need to improve again on what we've produced in our previous matches," Cheika said Thursday.

Playmaker Cooper comes back into the starting line-up for his 55th Test on a ground where the New Zealand-born flyhalf has been seen as the arch-villain ever since he kneed All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in a Test four years ago.

No 10 Cooper teams up with inside centre Matt Toomua to replace Bernard Foley and Matt Giteau outside new starting scrum-half Nic White.

Master marauder Pocock, who formed a formidable pairing with Michael Hooper in the loose last week, drops back to the reserves to make way for Wycliff Palu.

Will Skelton will start at lock, switching places with Dean Mumm, and Henry Speight comes in for veteran winger Drew Mitchell.

When Pocock, who made his debut in 2008, takes the field it will be his 50th Test with Cheika praising the loose forward for the way he has bounced back after missing the past two international seasons through injury.

"The way in which he's got there through perseverance and a lot of hard work and patience is a great measure of his character. He has been one of our best players this season," Cheika said.

"He knows that he will play a pivotal part in closing the match on Saturday night, and I expect he will put in a performance that all of Australia will be proud of."

Teams:

New Zealand:

15 Ben Smith, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Victor Vito, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock.

Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jerome Kaino, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Malakai Fekitoa

Australia:

15-Israel Folau, 14-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13-Tevita Kuridrani, 12-Matt Toomua, 11-Henry Speight, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Nic White, 8-Wycliff Palu, 7-Michael Hooper, 6-Scott Fardy, 5-James Horwill 4-Will Skelton, 3-Sekope Kepu, 2-Stephen Moore (captain), 1-Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16-Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17-James Slipper, 18-Greg Holmes, 19-Dean Mumm, 20-Kane Douglas, 21-David Pocock, 22-Matt Giteau, 23-Kurtley Beale

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