Five years after putting a streak in the name of Quade Cooper, the once mercurial player faces the coach who mercilessly fired him.
Cooper, a 75-try player, will return to full fitness against Cheka-coached Argentina in Sunday’s (AEST) Rugby Championship test at Mendoza after recovering from a scratch in Perth a month ago. The game maker is one of seven changes to the baseline for the TRC opener.
Years of painful history go online high price the two have tried to lighten up.
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Cooper “didn’t have much to do with him” and “wasn’t really involved in a lot of his teams,” Cheka said in an interview. nine Newspapers did not know what changes he made as a “block”, but believed that outside, on the field, he “corrected the management of the game”.
Those comments speak to Cooper’s maturation in recent years, but it was less than three years ago that the playmaker’s assessment of the former Wallabies boss was instrumental.
“If he cares about Auss rugby, he would have done it a while ago,” Cooper tweeted moments after Cheka was sacked as Wallis coach following their exit from the 2019 World Cup.
Cheka did not consult anyone when he left Cooper, but his assistants were surprised and dismayed by the fact that he did not use him much during his five years as coach.
But having to wait four Tests before being given the chance to join the Whalers a year after returning the SOS and leading the team to five straight wins, Cooper is one of Rennie’s first names on the squad list.
“The Czech thing, we didn’t say anything about it. I certainly didn’t tell him about anything historical,” Renee said.
The focus is on playing well for us and we expect him to do that.
Cooper, who now has the highest winning percentage (63 per cent) of any Wallabie, will need to continue playing in the style he showed last year when he returned from a four-year test break. He played alongside him during last year’s Rugby Championship.
Indeed, being a game manager and not a showman is crucial to the Walleyes’ chances in Argentina.
Australia need a player to pull the right strings and the 34-year-old Cooper will need to use his game smarts and clever short-ball game to open up a paceless Cheka side to run through the opposition.
If Samu Kerevi is not out, he will not have the batting that was used successfully against South Africa and Argentina last year. Having failed to play since leading his Japanese side to the Ligue 1 competition in May, he will not be feeling confident.
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Instead, Hunter Paisami will have a lively and talented, albeit developing, centre-back outside of him and the combination will be crucial against a Pumas side that is expected to flood the forward line and go hard on the ball.
“I think the amazing thing about Quade last year was that we had a plan going into the game and he executed it,” Rainey said.
“We have a clear plan this time too. Maybe when he was young it was important to play well and dominate the game, but now he is doing it in a different way.
Undoubtedly, Cheka will send his big men into Cooper’s channel and himself at the playmaker.
With no specialist players on the bench, the veteran full-back, with growing centers in midfield and an inexperienced fullback outside of him, will be tasked with carrying most of the weight, with Reece Hodge acting as Cooper’s understudy.
If he can step up and lead the Colts to victory, success will be sweeter.
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