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Quade Cooper... the key to unlocking the Springbok defence?

Quade Cooper was called up to the Wallabies as injury cover for James O'Connor by head coach Dave Rennie and many thought he would feature in one of their fixtures against the All Blacks. This was not to be however, as Australia slumped to their third defeat in as many games against the New Zealanders. The Australians now turn their focus to the Springboks this weekend, and they will need to pull off something special if they hope to unlock the impenetrable defence of the Boks.

In the recent British & Irish Lions tour, the Lions sought to beat the Springboks at their own game. They saw very little success from this tactic, as the Springboks have become masters of it. It wasn't until Finn Russell's cameo in the 3rd test that the Springboks defense seemed stretched and his performance may just be persuasive enough to hand him his first test since 2017.

Finn Russell came on early due to an injury to Dan Biggar and immediately the Lions looked like a different animal. They had depth and variation on attack, the backline was stringing phases together, but most importantly he brought the width to their game that the Bok defense works so hard to suppress. Cooper possesses similar attacking abilities to the Scotsman and boasts a wealth of experience too. Dave Rennie should be gearing up to unleash him on the Springboks in the hope that he can spark the Wallabies to victory.

So far, Noah Lolesio has been entrusted with the playmakers duties, but his struggles off the tee and inability to get his backline moving against the All Blacks cost the Wallabies. Reece Hodge was included in the 23, but he failed to ignite the Wallabies in the latter parts of the game, which is probably where Quade would have proven most valuable. Former All Black's star, Sonny Bill Williams who is a close friend of Cooper's spoke out on the matter, calling into question the failure to pick the well travelled playmaker.

“The non-selection that baffled me before the game was the non-selection of Quade Cooper"

Whilst O'Connor is set to link up with the side as they make the move to Queensland for the remaining fixtures, putting Coopers role in the squad in doubt, the player surely deserves a look in as what has been tried and tested has failed to yield the desired results so far. Dave Rennie needs to make the big calls, because creating a winning environment is the best way to help youngsters like Lolesio make the step up to the international arena successfully, rather than relying on him to create that momentum from scratch.

The Wallabies will face an all together different animal when they come up against the Springboks on Sunday. They will have to change it up from what hasn't been working and I feel like the best way to unleash the potential of their strong centers, is to include Cooper from the outset. At 33 years old and with 70 test caps to his name, he can still add immense value to their cause for the remaining four fixtures against the Springboks and Argentina.

The British & Irish Lions were left to rue the decision to play a conservative game against the Boks and Rennie can look to avoid a similar fate through the selection of Cooper at flyhalf.

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