Wallabies set for selection shake-up
On the cusp of a remarkable Wallabies return, Quade Cooper has reserved his praise for Izack Rodda as the lock eyes his own emotional comeback against the All Blacks.
The pair addressed media together in Perth on Tuesday, playmaker Cooper and lock Rodda with plenty in common after high-profile exits from the Queensland Reds in recent years.
Both could play on Sunday in the third Bledisloe Cup Test in Perth, the pair firming after centre Hunter Paisami and second-rower Lukhan Salakaia-Loto both left camp to be with their expecting partners.
A 70-Test veteran, Cooper will soon depart for another season in Japan and hasn’t played for Australia in four years.
Rodda will suit up for the Western Force next season after returning from a one-year stint in France and last played for Australia at the 2019 World Cup.
Reds coach Brad Thorn’s first big call was to move on from Super Rugby title-winner Cooper at Ballymore, while Rodda’s messy exit came mid-season last year when he was one of three players to refuse pay cuts after the COVID-19 shutdown.
“I played with him years ago and he is a phenomenal talent, great player and even better man off the field,” Cooper said of Rodda.
“I’ve enjoyed being able to catch up, spend some time with him and I know he’s going to be a great asset for Australian rugby.”
Rodda, a 25-Test veteran, admitted the likely return had come quicker than expected.
But he says he will come armed with an improved physicality at the breakdown and with the ball in hand – areas he viewed as a former weakness – after a challenging season with Lyon.
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“It’s been a long journey that probably started this time last year when I left, but I’m very pumped to be back,” he said.
“I didn’t expect it to happen this quick at all, just thought I’d be in Perth for the next six months.
“But it’s why I’m back, it’s a dream of mine to represent the Wallabies.”
Cooper played down the prospect of another Test cap despite coach Dave Rennie admitting the 33-year-old had pushed his way into the mix.
“It’s not something I’ve come in here and thought ‘I just have to play a Test’,” he said, admitting he wasn’t sure if he would remain with the squad for next month’s Rugby Championship.
“It hasn’t been a focus of mine to come in and just play a game. If I can grow as a rugby player and take that to Japan and pass it on … then that’s a great reward.
“Anything outside of that is just bonuses.”