Australia v South Africa, Rugby Championship, Perth
Deans throwns down the gauntlet to Cooper
September 7, 2012
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is hoping fly-half Quade Cooper can re-ignite his side's Rugby Championship chances © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans has demanded fly-half Quade Cooper steps up to the challenge of South Africa in Perth on Saturday.
The Wallabies' chances of capturing the Rugby Championship crown were dealt a near-fatal blow with back-to-back defeats at the hands of New Zealand in their opening two clashes and Deans is under increasing pressure to conjure a return to form with his own position reportedly on the line.
Cooper, who has recently battled back from knee surgery, was criticised for his performance against the All Blacks at Eden Park in what was his first start for the Wallabies since going under the knife. But Deans remains convinced he is the man to spark the Wallabies back into life and has urged him to spearhead his side's attack against the undefeated Springboks.
"To get the benefit of Quade's unique skill set we've got to create some momentum to bring him into the game and he's part of that as well," said Deans. "He needs to step forward and be prepared to take the ball to the line. Quade will be better. He can't help but be better, as will the group."
Cooper has also been handed a vote of confidence by captain and Reds team-mate Will Genia who is encouraged by what he has seen but has urged his No.10 to not go it alone. "He still has to fit into the team structures and things we want to do and achieve as a group," Genia told AAP.
"He's stepped it up a level (at training) based on the past couple of weeks. His organisation and his communication and his willingness to get involved has been a lot better and hopefully that transitions into the game."
Victory for South Africa would not only heap pressure on an under-fire Deans but would also end a five-match losing streak at the hands of Australia and would also ensure they move above them into second spot in the IRB World Rankings.
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