Cooper to win 50th Wallabies cap against Wales

Wallabies flyhalf Quade Cooper has been named to win his 50th Test cap for Australia on Saturday against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in the final match of their European tour.

Coach Ewen McKenzie has made three changes to his starting line up that beat Scotland 15-21 at Murrayfield last weekend.

The new line up sees return of Adam Ashley-Cooper at outside center and Nick Cummins on the wing, along with Christian Leali’ifano shifting to his preferred role at No. 12.

McKenzie has also reshuffled his bench with hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, prop Benn Robinson, lock Kane Douglas, back rower Dave Dennis and center Mike Harris the five changes made.

The Wallabies are in the same Rugby World Cup pool as England and Wales so coach Mckenzie says they will be treating the match as if it were a “Grand Final”.

Australia have won their last eight Test matches against Wales although a number of Welsh players were part of the British and Irish Lions team that beat the Wallabies earlier this year.

“We’re treating this week a little bit like our Grand Final,” McKenzie said after unveiling his side on Thursday.

“I think everyone will be extremely motivated by the circumstances of the game and the opportunity to play Wales in their backyard.”

Saturday’s match will also see fly-half Quade Cooper who was dropped by former coach Robbie Deans after labelling the environment created by the New Zealander as “toxic”, win his 50th cap.

“To get to 50 games is an outstanding achievement and it’s fitting that he reaches the milestone at the end of a really good individual season,” said McKenzie, who knows the 25-year-old well from their time together working at Queensland and made Cooper his Wallaby vice-captain to skipper Ben Mowen.

“But, he won’t be too caught up in the milestone externally, his focus will be on how he fits into the team and his responsibility of managing this game,” added former prop McKenzie, a member of Australia’s 1991 World Cup-winning team.

But Wales’ record against southern hemisphere giants South Africa, New Zealand and Australia since he became their coach in 2008 is dire, with just one win and 21 defeats.

Earlier this week, the New Zealander tried to downplay that poor run of results by saying,”People have got to be aware that probably in the past we’ve used (the November internationals) as a preparation for the Six Nations because that’s our bread and butter – these are friendlies.”

“Our focus has changed a bit this autumn.”

But, in comments to travelling Australia media, an unimpressed McKenzie said,”They’ve decided suddenly it’s time to actually go out and beat those teams, I don’t know why they weren’t deciding that last year or the year before.

“He (Gatland) has been at it since 2008, he’s had plenty of time to make that decision.”

Had it not been for a 20-13 defeat by England in their tour opener, Australia would be on the verge of equalling the Wallaby Grand Slam of 1984 where England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales were all defeated on the one tour.

But a run of three straight wins – they’ve also beaten Italy on this trip – is Australia’s best of the year.


Israel Folau, Joe Tomane, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Leali’ifano, Nick Cummins; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Ben Mowen (capt), Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy; James Horwill, Rob Simmons; Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, James Slipper

Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Ben Alexander, Kane Douglas Dave Dennis, Nic White, Mike Harris, Bernard Foley

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