Maybe it’s not just Quade Cooper’s last season, but his World Cup dream.
The 34-year-old playmaker did not feature in England’s 2-1 series defeat, having injured his calf in the opening Test in Perth and suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in the Wallabies’ 41-26 loss. Los Pumas won in Argentina.
The terrible injury bug is expected to keep him out of the rest of the season and possibly most of the Japanese League One season.
“We think it’s Achilles, but we need a bit of clarity around that,” Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said.
“It seems very difficult.”
It’s a shocking blow to a player who resurrected his career last September by leading the Colts to a five-game winning streak.
Taking up to a year to get back on the field is doubly damaging because at his age, in his position, few players regain their speed.
Even if he recovers in time, Cooper will not have the form to go out.
Although Cooper showed in form last year and again in Argentina, the fact that he can play without any game time is a big point going forward, especially in a World Cup year.
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In the interim, Dave Rennie has some options moving forward.
Both Noah Lolesio and James O’Connor are in Argentina, while Reece Hodge comes in at number 10 due to Cooper’s injury.
After Lolesio was handed the number 10 shirt in all three tests against England, the 22-year-old is keen to play against the Pumas next weekend.
But with a side that lacks a lot of experience, including regular captain Michael Hooper, O’Connor’s leadership makes him a favorite.
He also helped Lane win the bonus point for the Wallabies when Ekita scored, allowing him to continue his partnership with Hunter Paysamy.
“What we’ve got with James and Noah is we have good depth at that position and that’s a good thing about this team,” Rennie said.
“We’ve got a lot of guys on the injured list, but other guys have stepped up and stepped up. Again, we don’t want excuses around that. The next man to step up and stand up for his shirt and his country.
Cooper’s injury puts the focus back on who will be the number 10 with the World Cup just 13 months away.
Not only are the 2011 Super Rugby winners long odds to reach the tournament in France, but questions remain over O’Connor’s durability.
The 32-year-old has struggled to string tests together and is unlikely to make it through the World Cup campaign unscathed.
Lolesio has shown that he can deliver from kicking, including tissue, but consistency and timing remain his biggest challenges.
The issue the Wallahs face is that they have a talented youngster in the 18-23 age group, from Tom Lynagh to Ben Donaldson; These will be the players of the future.
The Wallis could follow France’s lead from 2019 and target the World Cup home four years from now, or return to Bernard Foley, who had a strong season in Japan.
Despite playing on a modest roster, Foley led Kubota Spurs to the semi-finals of Japan’s League One.
The 32-year-old turned down an offer to join the squad ahead of last year’s Rugby Championship but is believed to still be keen to play for the Welshmen again.
That didn’t help his call-up chances, but Foley has the experience and strength to qualify for the World Cup.
In the year His disappointing campaign in 2019 was sporadic and indecisive with Australia’s selection panel divided over who should wear the No.10 jersey.
In the end, Michael Cheka saved precious few minutes but threw Foley into the deep end, calling on the former playmaker against the Waratahs and picking two of the biggest matches of the tournament despite not being used in other matches.
The decision backfired, but Foley is a well-liked player and a skilled operator.
And like he found last year by bringing Renee Cooper into camp, he could also see a player who adds value to the team light on experience.