Australian rugby news The return of the Quade Cooper Samu Kerevi Wallabies creates a selection puzzle

The surprise return from Japan of Wallabies veterans Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi suddenly created welcome headaches for the Australian selection panel.

The former Reds stars guided the Wallabies to a stunning 28-26 victory over world champions South Africa on Sunday, a result that kept Australia’s rugby campaign alive and propelled Dave Rennie’s side from seventh to fifth place in the world ranking.

Certainly, the pair will retain their starting spots at 10 and 12 for Saturday’s rematch against the Smart Springboks at Suncorp Stadium.

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Quade’s emotional tribute to SBW

But the bigger question now is what does all of this mean for the shape of the wallabies’ backline in the medium to long term.

Rugby World Cup obsession tends to dominate these discussions and Australia now has three viable options at five eighths.

James O’Connor is fit again and available for selection this weekend, but may have to settle for a place on the bench behind Cooper.

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And then there’s Noah Lolesio, 21, excellent in the series victory over a second string from France but exposed in a well-beaten Bledisloe Cup squad.

“James is two years younger than Quade, it’s a little easier for him to qualify for the World Cup since he’s 31,” former Wallaby Morgan Turinui told Stan Sport. Rugby paradise.

“Quade is 33 years old, although in this brand new Wallabies jersey this weekend he looks as good as I saw him look.

“I don’t know if it’s the jersey, the color – he’s got a pretty damn good nickname for sure.

“His problem is that he plays in the second division in Japan. Yes, he sometimes has the great Will Genia to go with him, but Nic White plays with Noah Lolesio at the Brumbies, Tate (McDermott) plays with James O’Connor week later week out.

“And when you count all these matches between now and the World Cup, it’s a huge advantage for cohesion, for the sharing of knowledge and experience for these kinds of players.

“You’re not throwing out Noah – Noah is taking advantage of his presence on the team.”

Turinui has said Nic White and O’Connor will be his favorite halves for the Wallabies at the upcoming World Cup if they are forced to make a crystal ball prediction.

But he added that Tate McDermott was becoming an “absolute weapon” and that Will Harrison, Ben Donaldson and Carter Gordon deserved to be mentioned alongside Lolesio as the best young hubs in the country.

Turinui also urged Cooper to support his return from the Hollywood script.

“Quade, a great week, let’s see consistent performances, it will be great to see in the weeks to come,” said Turinui.

“It was almost the most significant individual performance, certainly in the Wallabies jersey, that I have seen.

“Coming back from Second Division in Japan, he hasn’t played a game since April, had coffee with Dave Rennie and came back to the squad in a bit of a mentoring role.

“He was masterful in handling the game and then aiming to win it – it’s a huge individual performance from Quade Cooper over the months and over the weekend.

“The other side is a bit of an indictment in terms of the high performance and the pathways of Australian rugby at the moment. It’s worrying that the situation has arisen.

“And yes, COVID is the right excuse to move players and things like that, but there are a few things that say Rugby Australia needs to get back to the drawing board a little bit on player lanes in the Wallabies and make them earn Wallabies. “

Meanwhile, Cooper’s longtime partner Will Genia had no doubts that his close friend was capable of playing at the 2023 World Cup in France.

“It doesn’t matter if you are old or young – if Quade is still committed in terms of mind, body and performance, there is no reason not to,” Genia told Tim Horan on Rugby paradise.

“James is in exactly the same situation – they’re in such a good position mentally and physically – it’s more about being able to stay consistent with that and consistent in their performance?

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“Because obviously you have a young man in Noah coming up who, in his youth, has more freedom to want to come out and express himself.

“So it will be an interesting time to see how it goes for the three of them.”

Further down the back line, Kerevi arguably made an even bigger impact than Cooper in resuscitating Australia’s declining fortunes.

At the height of his powers, Kerevi gives the Wallabies a midfield lead as well as a mature header to galvanize a relatively young team.

The question now is who associates him with the midfielder?

Len Ikitau has performed well against South Africa, making the most of his opportunity as Hunter Paisami celebrates the birth of his first child.

“We saw Hunter at 12 and 13, I think a lot of us naturally see him at 12, but Len Ikitau was good,” said Turinui.

“Really good defensively, made some good decisions, a good penetration run… he will get better and better.

“I wouldn’t mind taking a look at the two running back style guys with Kerevi and Paisami at one point, just to try something and see what it looks like.

“This means it will probably influence our selection at 15 as well, if you only have one ball player at 10 and you really don’t have anyone with different skills in midfield it will affect 15th

“I would love to see that at some point. Isn’t it great that we are talking about all these breeding challenges?

“Nine, 10, crosses now – that’s a big deal for Dave Rennie and his selection panel.”

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