England v Australia
Quade Cooper stunned by vice-captaincy
November 1, 2013
Quade Cooper evades a tackle, Australia v South Africa, Rugby Championship, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, September 7, 2013
Ewen McKenzie has recognised Quade Cooper's "decision-making role ... [and] contributing to the culture of the team off the field" © Getty Images

Quade Cooper was speechless after Ewen McKenzie named him Wallabies vice-captain for the Test against England at Twickenham on Saturday, the fly-half elevated to the role just 13 months after branding the team environment under Robbie Deans "toxic".

Cooper, 25, missed the mid-year series against the British & Irish Lions series under Deans, and McKenzie only played him from the bench in the opening two Bledisloe Cup Tests after the August coaching handover. But his former Queensland Reds mentor has now handed him the leadership honour for the start of the European tour after being impressed with his team-first attitude.

Cooper said he was surprised by the appointment after Ben Mowen was also given a shock promotion when James Horwill was dumped as skipper.

"I was a bit speechless, I didn't know what to say," Cooper said. "There was a great deal of happiness.

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"To get that vice-captaincy next to my name is something I see as being pretty special, but I'm just going to concentrate on doing the best job I can for the team within my role at No.10."

Cooper felt his ascension was great reward for his hard work and turning his focus on being a better team man.

"For me it's just a recognition of my off-field work and setting an example moving forward as well, to continue to work as ward as possible on and off the field and be a good team player."

McKenzie said: "We're recognising Quade for the decision-making role he plays on the field and the positive involvements he continues to make in contributing to the culture of the team off the field."

Follow live text commentary of the Test between England and Australia on Saturday, November 2 from 2pm (GMT) and 1am (AEDT, Sunday November 3)

Greg Growden and Russell Barwick look forward to Australia's Grand Slam tour

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