Cooper starts, Folau at 15 for Oz


Israel Folau has made the long-awaited switch to fullback and Quade Cooper will start for the Wallabies against the Springboks in Brisbane on Saturday.
September 4, 2013 – 11:02AM
Georgina Robinson

Quade Cooper will start at five-eighth for the Wallabies against South Africa. Photo: Getty Images

Folau has been named in a back three with wingers James O’Connor and Nick Cummins, who comes into the side at the expense of Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg.

Folau moves to fullback after five Tests on the wing. Folau played fullback for the Waratahs all season and named the No.15 jersey as his preferred position.

Cooper makes his starting return at five-eighth, squeezing out Matt Toomua, who started both Tests against the All Blacks last month. Toomua and Mogg both move to the bench.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has kept his midfield intact, naming Adam Ashley-Cooper and Christian Leali’ifano in the centres for the third Test in a row.

“We have very specific thoughts about how we want to play this game and feel Quade is best suited to carrying that out,” McKenzie said.

“He’s been part of our matchday squad in both games so far but his role now changes from being a finisher to starting the game. We feel that role will suit how we want to play.

“He is also an experienced and successful Test player, which is handy to have against a hardened Springboks outfit.

“It has been almost 12 months since he last started a Test match and I’m sure there were times where he wondered if he would wear the number 10 jersey again. He’s worked really hard both on and off the field to now get that chance.

“He’s carried himself extremely well all year and during the last fortnight in the role we’ve asked him to complete. Now, he gets a chance to make an impact from the start of the game.

“That also means we’re asking Matt [Toomua] to fulfil a new role this week. He has had a great season so far and his form was reflected in our decision to choose him for the opening two Test matches. He’s still in our Test squad and will have a part to play in our success this week and moving forward.”

Versatile prop Sekope Kepu replaces Ben Alexander at tighthead, with the Brumbies prop moving to the bench in the only change to the starting eight.

Reds back-rower Jake Schatz has taken Liam Gill’s spot on the bench in an effort to beef up the Wallabies pack.

Wallabies: James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, James Horwill (c), Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen, Will Genia (vc), Quade Cooper, James O’Connor, Christian Leali’ifano, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nick Cummins, Israel Folau.

Bench: Saia Fainga’a, Scott Sio, Ben Alexander, Kane Douglas, Jake Schatz, Nic White, Matt Toomua, Jesse Mogg.

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  1. That’s a much better side… no defensive gaps… pack is huge and mobile and Cummins was the form Aus wing in the Super 15… hard running, uncompromising and big in the tackle… super dangerous back three…

    Egads I hope the Boks are up for this!

  2. @bryce_in_oz: A lot of people have predicted Folau moving to fullback after he was starved of the ball out on the wing in the Bledisloe Cup games but given the Boks / Bulls love of the skop en jaag tactic, it is a smart move. He is really good at fielding those high balls, I guess because that is what he had to do when he played Aussie rules rugger. Just hope the Boks are smart enough to be able to switch from plan A (skop en jaag) to plan B when he runs the ball back at them?

  3. @out wide:

    I say keep the ball away from their entire back three (how to win doing that is another story)… J’OC was breaking the AB line at will, Cummins is quick and takes a lot to bring down… and Folau is an improved hybrid of both and bigger…

    Wallabie LO is still not that flash… although having the two Brumbie’s LO practioners at flank on top of Simmons and Horwell is certainly a help… even Hooper took LO ball against the AB’s…

    Cannot see the Boks taking this in the slightest… but I’ll be cheering them on all the same…

  4. So Suzy travelled with the Boks to Brissie then? Tell her its the guys in the yellow jerseys she is supposed to target dammit.

  5. @out wide:

    Bokke can beat them – all comes down to the top 2 inches!! No amount of coaches dealing with breakdown, skills, game plan etc. will help if the top 2 inches are not looked at!

    Where is Brand when you need him :fishing:

  6. If you can rattle Will Genia and Quade Cooper you have the Ausssie. Seems in any case that Genia loose his cool as soon as calls goes against him.

    Cooper in what he showed this year is more a benefit for the Boks than someone to worry. I am sorry the dude’s confidence is not were it was and he is not playing the way he can. If he does we are in shit.

  7. Nope i am afraid this renewed confidence in Cooper is all he needs to get back to his best. This is a very exciting Ozzie team and one that can easily give us 30 points if we dont show up with all our guns.

    Our team is simply not as talented.

  8. @Jacques(Bunny):

    Dunno mate… The Reds season only started when Genia was reunited with Cooper… the key is going to be dismantling that partnership straight off the bat… but do we have the speed to that is another question… not in our loosies we don’t…

  9. @bryce_in_oz: That will be if we win this or not, cannot hide from it our loosies needs to take accountability and responsibility.

    This is the test we all have been waiting for to be able to see how much HM did improve with this team.

    This will be his first real test after year one, get over this one and you can start talking about this team, if we don’t, shit times for HM and his overseas Boks

  10. @Jacques(Bunny):

    almost 2 years later and I still deep down wish we would cop a few big losses so we can clean house. Problem is HM wont clean house – he will dig deeper to try and find old brooms.

    But Jake needed a few PK’s in Oz to come to his senses. Hopefully this is Meyers turn

  11. @JT_BOKBEFOK!:

    no hell Oz has now played together a couple of times against the best 2 teams in the world (NZ and Lions) so their players should be battle hardened and combos starting to settle.

    I reckon they can klap us and by a good bit

  12. Folau can catch and run but does not kick, which makes him easy to cover.
    O’Connor can break the line at will, but never passes, which makes him easy to cover.
    Cummings always looks real busy and aggressive but that’s all there is.
    The midfield is solid. Cooper and Genia are very dangerous, but only if Genia can make a 180 on his recent form. Was he pining for his mate perhaps?
    From an SA perspective, I’m glad Mogg is not there any more.

  13. The 6th rank team in the world, Wales, recently put +40 points over them.
    The All Blacks did too, whilst using their 5th choice fly-half.
    Themselves are on their 3rd fly-half and 2nd coach for the season and not because of injuries either.
    They’re not sure if Folau is a wing or a fullback or where, if at all, to play O’Connor. The only sure thing about Cooper is that he’s a disrupter of team spirit.
    Genia was woeful the last few weeks.
    Their line-out is shaky and the new scrum laws have left them badly exposed.

    I’d say they’re on the ropes.

  14. @Jacques(Bunny):

    Yep… the real test starts now…


    You’re assuming a ‘clean-out’ is the solution… I don’t think in most cases it is in the slightest when I look at some of the ‘flash-in-the-pan’ players being touted as test players…

    No team not even the AB’s ‘cleans-out’ their players… they keep a great mix of experience and youngsters…


    Oh but Folau can kick… years of deft touches off both feet in league… and as soon as he was moved to a forward in AFL he kicked 4 monster goals in one game…

    Mogg can only kick off one foot, is easier to tackle and is weak on defence (next year he’ll be better)…

    And no… the best of Britain put 40 points on the Wallabies… not the 6th team in the world… Wales have lost 6 consecutive games against them…

    3 BIL games (albeit under a different coach), some tweaking against the best team in the world (who they narrowly lost to after a disallowed try)… you’re dreaming if you think they’re on their back-foot playing at their favourite ground…

  15. @bryce_in_oz:

    “The Reds season only started when Genia was reunited with Cooper”

    This the same Cooper who was hiding at fullback against the Crusaders? The guy looked seriously out of sorts.

  16. @bryce_in_oz:

    I followed him a bit in SR, because he really is impressive with ball in hand and also in the air but he almost never kicked the ball. Perhaps he can kick very well, but for some or other reason he hasn’t shown it as a union player. For a fullback, that’s a bit odd.

  17. @bryce_in_oz:

    I’m talking about Waratah games. The opponents kicked deep, he caught the ball and immediately looked for someone to pass to, who then kicked the ball. Happened many times in several games. Even when he was in the better position to take the kick, he did not. For a fullback, it was very peculiar.

    Deans selecting him on the wing made sense to me. A fullback that lacks confidence in his out of hand kicking, is like a prop that hates scrumming!
    Does not make any sense.

  18. LOL Timeo – “a fullback that lacks confidence in his out of hand kicking, is like a prop that hates scrumming! Useful analogy but perhaps Folau or his coach does not believe in kicking the leather off the ball. The fullback receiving possession from the kicking team has 3 options; 1) run; 2) pass or 3) kick, giving possession back to the opponents. We see option 3) being adopted a lot by Saffer teams and it is seen by many as a characterisic of our game but many coaches in Oz and NZ want to see their #15 adopting options 1 and 2 before 3. Folau is pretty good at running back at the opposition as is the other Israel, Dagg as is Ben Smith. Why kick away possession when you can march the opposition back down the field by retaining possession? The boks better be hitting those tackle bags at practice.

  19. Oz would do well to take a page out of Naka Drotske/Zee Meyer’s playbook & allow Folau to roam about looking for work – its true they never give that guy the ball.
    Wouldn’t have the same potential as with Willie’s situation because he can’t come close distribution wise….but that’s a weapon that needs to be employed as much as possible.

  20. It’s a little cumbersome, but if you look at the game stats on ruggastats you’ll see what I mean.
    The Waratahs did not kick less than the typical Anzac team, but Folau kicked less than his team mates and less other ANZAC back players.

    example the Chiefs game: They counted 10 Waratah kicks (folau 0) and 7 Chiefs kicks (Anscombe 3 in 64 min)

    brumbies game: Folau took 2 kicks for 75m, Mogg, 5 and Mitchell (Waratahs) 5. Both close to 50m per kick and Mogg made more run meters than Folau also.

    Kings game: The Kings made 12 kicks and the ‘tahs 19. Folau made 0, his R wing made 7.

    So on.

    No stats, but I don’t recall many run-backs either. He was most effective joining the line wide or collecting an attacking kick. Good attributes for wings.

  21. I see in the last 12 months the Aussies have used 4 different starting fullbacks, 8 different wings, 5 centers and 4 Fly-halfs.

    Pretty much the same 8 to 10 players being shuffled around every match. They’re cursed with all these multi talented utility backs, but just can not figure out where they should play.

  22. @Americano:

    Kiwi’s were a damn site more worried about kicking on Folau’s side than they will be against WLR… the former is exceptional under the high ball… the latter not so much…


    What’s cumbersome… he runs the ball over kicking, makes plays, play-maker passes, assists and tries and this is reflected in his stats…

    2nd in top tries scored, 1st in run metres, 4th in runs, 10th in linebreaks, 6th in line-break assists, 2nd in off-loads and nowhere in most turnovers conceded.

    He got no ball (and was magic when he did) against NZ (who were kicking more than normal)… they want this to change hence the move against a team than kicks more often than not.

    Not much to ponder there…

  23. Horwill being out improves this pack IMO…

    Douglas is bigger, stronger, faster, younger and more abrasive… far better than Flip and on par with Eben in every aspect.

    There are enough captains in the Aus side with Genia, Mowen and Moore.

  24. Yes it is GREAT to have the BEST 15 on the pitch but if they don’t play as a TEAM then your indiviuals won’t be that hot either…
    Rugby is the ultimate team sport, Aus may have great individuals but they are not clicking YET – when they do they can beat anyone, same goes for Bokke and any other team.
    However the reverse goes for any team, look at the Highlanders this season – all big names but could not get their sh!t together on the pitch.

    I think Aus will edge us in brisbane but I would not be too surprised if SA turn up on the day either – looking forward to it.