Cooper returns for Wallabies' trip to Argentina
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Uncapped Jock Campbell has entered the fierce competition to wear the Wallabies fullback jersey, with coach Dave Rennie saying the position remains wide open.
Campbell earned his first call-up while lock Rory Arnold is back in the Wallabies fold to face the Michael Cheika-coached Pumas in the Rugby Championship next month.
Rennie named a 36-player squad ahead of their first Test in Mendoza on Saturday, August 6, with the second in nearby San Juan a week later.
Melbourne prop Matt Gibbon also won his first selection while flanker Fraser McReight and centre Lalakai Foketi were included after impressing in the recent Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji.
Irae Simone returns for the first time since 2020 as cover for Samu Kerevi, who will be part of Australia’s Commonwealth Games Sevens tilt.
Rennie’s first fullback pick Tom Banks suffered a broken arm in the opening England Test with Jordan Petaia, Tom Wright, Andrew Kellaway and Reece Hodge all getting a chance.
The coach said Campbell also fitted the bill.
“He’s had a great season, he’s matured, he’s deceptively quick, got a really good skill set and comfortable on the wing and at fullback, although I think 15 is his best spot,” Rennie said of Campbell.
“He pushed close to making our squad originally and that was the great thing about the Australia A program as he had a chance to go away and play good opposition and I thought he was excellent over there.
“It was a pretty straightforward choice for us.”
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While Japan-bound Banks has only ever started a Test at fullback, Rennie said ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in France they wanted someone who could also play wing.
“It’s a position that’s competitive and we have good options,” Rennie said.
“Our fullback needs to be able to play on the wing as well and we’ve got a fair bit of versatility there.
“We really rate Andrew Kellaway. Jordy’s coming back from a head knock but he’s good to go and I thought Tom Wright was outstanding in the second Test.”
Kellaway will sit out against Argentina with a hamstring injury while prop Angus Bell is also on the sidelines after badly hurting his toe.
Quade Cooper returns after missing the England series with a calf injury while locks Jed Holloway and Darcy Swain and prop Scott Sio are back on deck.
Under the Giteau Law Rennie is permitted to bring in three overseas-based players, with Arnold swapping in for Kerevi.
The 27-Test lock, who has been playing in France, featured on the Wallabies’ Spring tour last year.
The Australians are looking to rebound after losing the three-Test series against England, going down 21-17 in the decider last Saturday in Sydney.
Rennie said the review of the series had been “frustrating”.
“We did some really good things … maybe that last bit of skill wasn’t good enough and ended up letting us down.
“We missed a lot of opportunities from turnover and counter to do the obvious and that’s an area we need to make shifts.
“We’re frustrated because we should have been better and we should have won it.”
Australia have historically dominated Argentina but the Pumas are coming off a series win over Scotland and Cheika, who coached the Wallabies for five years, will have them fired up.
“We’re well aware of how tough the challenge is of playing Argentina two weeks in a row on their home soil and they’ll be full of confidence after their series win over Scotland,” Rennie said.
Australia: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Jock Campbell, Quade Cooper, Pone Fa’amausili, Folau Fainga’a, Lalakai Foketi, Nick Frost, Matt Gibbon, Jake Gordon, Reece Hodge, Michael Hooper (c), Jed Holloway, Len Ikitau, Marika Koroibete, Rob Leota, Noah Lolesio, Lachlan Lonergan, Tate McDermott, Fraser McReight, James O’Connor, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Matt Philip, David Porecki, Pete Samu, Irae Simone, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Darcy Swain, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Suliasi Vunivalu, Nic White, Harry Wilson, Tom Wright.