Mortlock wants Cooper & Genia to face Lions

Former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock has called for Quade Cooper to partner Will Genia at half back against the British and Irish Lions.

Cooper and Genia’s playing partnership has been near to it’s best again and they have managed to keep some real heat on Super Rugby’s leading team the Brumbies as they are just one point behind them.

Mortlock is a big supporter of Rebels fly-half James O’Connor but despite this he says that partnership of Quade Cooper and Will Genia cannot be ignored and must start against the Lions.

However Cooper has been left out of Wallabies coach Robbie Deans’ training squads to date after he was fined last year for saying the Wallabies camp is “toxic”.

The British and Irish Lions will have several warm up matches before the three Tests and Mortlock is concerned that the Wallabies combinations might be underdone which is why he says Deans must select the existing Cooper – Genia partnership.

“The debate about selections is very interesting across the whole team because the Wallabies will come into the first Test short of a gallop and the Lions will have an extended lead-in,” Mortlock told the Courier Mail.

“It does potentially change the names and the way you might pick the Wallabies first up.

“A lot of uncapped players are really producing strong Super Rugby performances but you have to go into a first Test this massive with more known factors than unknowns.

“Whenever the Wallabies have done really well, it has hinged on a really strong halves combination.

“‘Combination’ is the word and Quade and Will have just played so much rugby together.

“To me, Quade has responded well to being left out of that last Wallaby (logistics) camp.”

“His form for the Reds is up and how he’s talking off the pitch says to me he is in a good mindset.”

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is expected to name an initial 25-man training squad later this week and Mortlock has played alongside all of the contenders flyhalf – Cooper, O’Connor and Berrick Barnes in his 80 cap career and he prefers Cooper at 10.

Mortlock says that O’Connor’s performances at flyhalf for the Rebels gives the Wallabies an extra X-factor for the Wallabies in the first Test in Brisbane on June the 22nd.

“James is a freakishly talented player and you want him having maximum impact,” Mortlock said.

“I like the idea of him playing as a winger who can roam and get into first receiver too because all those benefits of him playing No.10 can then come through.

“The selectors have a real balancing act to reward some uncapped guys like an Israel Folau or Jesse Mogg, who are in impeccable form, but also backing experienced, big game performers.”

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