Rugby Championship: Quade Cooper named in Australia's starting XV
Last Updated: September 7, 2013 10:25am
Quade Cooper: Returns to the starting XV for Australia
Australia head coach Ewen McKenzie has handed enigmatic fly-half Quade Cooper his first Test start in 12 months for Saturday's clash with South Africa.
Cooper replaces the benched Matt Toomua as one of three changes to the starting XV, with Nick Cummins and Sekope Kepu also recalled.
Cummins comes into the side for Jesse Mogg, with Israel Folau switching to full-back, while Kepu replaces Ben Alexander at tighthead.
"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 (against New Zealand) so far but his role now changes from being a finisher to starting the game and 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 No 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, but now he gets a chance to make an impact from the start of the game."
McKenzie added of the decision to shift Folau to full-back and the inclusion of Cummins and Kepu: "Israel has played more full-back than on the wing so he will undoubtedly feel comfortable playing the position.
"He has looked impressive at training and we think he will add value with how we want to approach the game.
"Once we made the decision to move Israel it opened the door for another player on the wing.
"The Springboks are an abrasive and physical team and we feel Nick's style of play will suit that.
"Up front 'Keps' has been on the fringes but he is a very good technician of the game, which is important as everyone continues to work out the new scrum laws.
"We've got a lot of good players in this space and for this week Keps deserves an opportunity to start."
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 James O'Connor, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 1 James Slipper, 2 Stephen Moore, 3 Sekope Kepu, 4 Rob Simmons, 5 James Horwill (capt), 6 Scott Fardy, 7 Michael Hooper, 8 Ben Mowen.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Nic White, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Jesse Mogg.