Quade can play way into Wallabies squad
Quade Cooper can play his way into the first Wallabies squad of 2012 by standing tall in the Test-like intensity of Saturday night’s Super Rugby blockbuster at Canberra Stadium.
Cooper produced an impressive 40-minute return from his knee reconstruction in Queensland’s 34-20 win over the Lions but will face a far sterner test in what is a virtual play-off battle against the Brumbies.
National coach Robbie Deans is due to name his extended squad for next month’s Tests against Scotland and Wales on Sunday night and will take particular interest in the mercurial five-eighth’s efforts in Canberra.
All three Wallabies selectors – Deans, Tony McGahan and Andrew Blades – plus assistant coach Nick Scrivener will attend Saturday night’s clash.
While former Test skipper Rocky Elsom will reportedly be a high-profile omission, officials are adamant the training squad of about 40 has yet to be finalised.
Deans has indicated Kurtley Beale is set to wear the No.10 jersey for the back-to-back Tests on June 5 (Scotland) and June 9 (Wales) following his eye-catching form for the Melbourne Rebels in the past month.
Despite being sidelined for seven months, Cooper can grab a place in the squad, and possibly add to his 35 caps in the three-Test series against Wales, by showing he’s up to the task in the high-stakes clash against the Brumbies.
A home win will see the Brumbies jump 12 points clear on the Australian conference with four rounds left while the Reds can cut the gap to four, with a four-point bye to follow before the June Test window.
“The more rugby he plays the better,” Deans said of Cooper.
“Every fixture between now and when we settle on the Scotland combination (Sunday week) has meaning.
“This fixture this week is fantastic.
“I just hope they don’t obliterate each other because there’s a very big incentive. There’s a big incentive within the tournament itself and a big incentive to press for Test selection.”
A host of uncapped Reds and Brumbies players can also push themselves further towards Test contention at Canberra Stadium.
Brumbies forwards Dan Palmer, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper and Ben Mowen are all in the frame for Wallabies debuts while backs Nic White, Joe Tomane and Jesse Mogg have also produced eye-catching Super Rugby form.
Reds backs Mike Harris, Luke Morahan and Dom Shipperley can join teammates Will Genia and Digby Ioane in the squad with strong displays.© AAP 2013
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