Deans rules out Cooper recall

2012-06-07 00:00

SYDNEY — Australia coach Robbie Deans is resisting the urge to recall Quade Cooper despite an upset loss to Scotland, saying it would be “negligent” to rush the Wallabies playmaker into the first Test against Wales this weekend.

Cooper has played only one and a half Super Rugby matches since his return from the knee injury he sustained at last year’s Rugby World Cup, which required a seven-month rehabilitation period. He was named in Australia’s extended squad for the Scotland Test but was released before Tuesday’s match to focus on his recovery.

Berrick Barnes played at flyhalf and was unconvincing in Australia’s 9-6 loss to Scotland in a rain-soaked Test at Newcastle. Pressure has mounted on Deans to recall Cooper for the first of three Tests against Wales but he told reporters “there’s no chance of that”.

“It would be negligent. He’s not ready and he understands that,” Deans said. “It’s not worth the risk because you could compromise not only him in the long run, but also us.”

Barnes was chosen at flyhalf for yesterday’s match in the absence of James O’Connor, who has a lacerated liver, and Kurtley Beale, who has a shoulder injury.

Deans has little option but to stick with Barnes for Saturday’s tougher Test against Six Nations champions Wales. Pat McCabe is expected to play at inside centre, replacing Mike Harris and leaving Barnes to take on the goalkicking duties. Deans said Barnes, along with all of the Wallabies team, have much to work on.

“To use the ball effectively you’ve got to have a greater understanding of direction and shape and we lacked that”, against Scotland, he said.

Deans expects Wales to try to take advantage of Australia’s likely weariness. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the Welsh, in the knowledge that we have played two games this week, don’t adapt their tactics to make the most of that,” he said. “You’ll see fresh legs with a fresh mind-set.

“There was a huge contact load for the group. A significant number of the group will have to back up. We will monitor them individually.”

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