New Zealand v Australia, Rugby Championship
Cooper recalled for All Blacks Test
August 23, 2012
Quade Cooper starts for the Wallabies (l) with Will Genia (r) taking the captaincy © Getty Images
Australia have opted to recall Quade Cooper for their Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday.
Cooper comes into the side at fly-half with Berrick Barnes shifting to inside centre. Drew Mitchell comes back into the side for the first time since the 2011 World Cup and Adam Ashley-Cooper shifts to fullback at Kurtley Beale's expense. With skipper David Pocock sidelined, Michael Hooper starts at openside with Will Genia taking the captaincy.
But the headlines will be taken by Cooper. He has not played for Australia since seriously injuring his knee in the third-place playoff against Wales at last year's World Cup, coincidentally at Eden Park where Saturday's Test will be played.
Selectors have opted against finalising their bench because of an undisclosed injury concern, meaning 25 players will travel to Auckland before a final 22 is named, so Beale could yet be involved.
Pocock's absence, which comes after incumbent skipper James Horwill was injured before the June Tests against Scotland and Wales, means Brumbies flanker Hooper gets his first opportunity to start while Ben Alexander replaces Sekope Kepu at tighthead. While Hooper will be playing his fourth match, reserve hooker Stephen Moore is poised to draw level with Jeremy Paul as the most-capped Wallabies hooker in history, currently sitting on 71 caps.
Australia team: Adam Ashley-Cooper; Drew Mitchell, Rob Horne, Berrick Barnes, Digby Ioane; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Sitaleki Timani, Nathan Sharpe, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Scott Higginbotham.
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