Cooper set to return from injury as Rugby World Cup edges closer

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper is set to return from injury in a matter of weeks, as coach Eddie Jones keeps an open mind about the final squad selection for September’s Rugby World Cup.

Cooper had previously expressed his hope to play in Australia’s Rugby Championship campaign, which kicks off in July, after he ruptured his Achilles tendon in August and missed the remainder of the 2022 season.

“He’s due to play in a couple of weeks … and everything’s on song. He’s progressing really nicely,” Jones said on Monday, after revealing he had visited Cooper during a recent trip to Japan.

Quade Cooper. Credit: Cameron Spencer, Getty Images

The 35-year-old flyhalf, who currently plays in Japan for the Kintetsu Liners, appeared for a minute for the club last week to satisfy a rule which requires players to appear on the field once in the regular season to qualify for the league’s promotion-relegation series.

“He ran on well, and he ran off well, so that’s a start. He’s obviously got to do a bit more than that,” Jones said of the tactical appearance.

As the September 8th World Cup kick-off date edges closer, Jones said the Rugby Championship selection was his priority.

And while Jones said he was impressed by the attitude of the 33-man group who joined a Wallabies training camp last month, he has been hard-lined that those who missed out still have a chance to make the final squad.

Andrew Kellaway, Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones, Reece Hodge and Pone Fa’amausili at the MCG. Credit: Daniel Pockett, Getty Images

“We’ve got a number of players coming back, which is really promising,” he said.

He said that Samu Kerevi, who ruptured his ACL playing sevens at the Commonwealth Games last year, would return on May 5th. Melbourne Rebels lock Matt Phillips and flanker Rob Leota are also set to rejoin the field.

“[It] creates this really nice selection pressure that the players who keep improving and the players who keeping showing that they’ve got an appetite to be the best in the world will get selected,” he said.

“This is one of the most famous jerseys in the world. You don’t get it playing one good game. You gotta play consistently well.”

The returned Wallabies coach said he would be keeping a close eye on Saturday’s Super Rugby Pacific game between the Waratahs and Reds, in which Test flankers Michael Hooper and Fraser McReight will go head-to-head.

The Rebels also host the Brumbies in another all-Australian tussle on Sunday.

“The local derbies are really important games because there’s a bit more pressure on in those games,” Jones said.

“Everyone understands that they’re more important selection games, so to see players go head-to-head will be very useful in terms of selection.”

Meanwhile, the chances of Rory Arnold joining the Wallabies are slim.

Arnold, Australia’s highest-paid rugby player, had already been overlooked for the recent pre-World Cup camp after he elected to stay with Japanese club Hino Red Dolphins, even though the club withdrew from the Top League over a bar scandal.

“If he’s not playing, it’s very hard to get selected. I can’t play him if he’s playing mahjong. You’re playing mahjong, well, it doesn’t get you on the team,” Jones said.

When asked whether he saw Arnold during his recent trip to Japan, Jones responded: “I didn’t go to any mahjong clubs.”

With AAP

Most Viewed in Sport

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article