Makeshift Wallabies get ready to go again in San Juan

The Wallabies claimed one of their finest wins under Dave Rennie in Mendoza over the weekend

As outhalf Quade Cooper ponders a long journey to recovery from a serious Achilles strain, a patched-up Australia head to San Juan hoping for relief from a nightmare injury toll in advance of the second Rugby Championship clash against Argentina.

The Wallabies claimed one of their finest wins under Dave Rennie in Mendoza over the weekend, overhauling the Pumas 41-26 despite losing Cooper midway through and captain Michael Hooper for wellbeing reasons on the eve of the Test.

Team management have yet to give a timeline for Cooper's return but the 34-year-old is not expected to play again this season.

“Ready and prepared for this journey,” Cooper wrote on social media.


“Doesn’t mean it will be easy but I know I’ve prepared myself for the challenge ahead by building systems and habits to guide me through each obstacle on my path.”

Cooper may be confident in dealing with what lies ahead but Rennie and his staff may be less so as they plan for next year's World Cup.

Cooper’s hopes of wearing the No 10 jersey in France rest on ever shakier legs.

His Achilles injury came only weeks after hurting his calf during the prematch warm-up for the first test against England, ruling him out of the entire three-match series.

James O'Connor, Rennie's go-to number 10 during his first season in charge in 2020, is in the squad in Argentina but has struggled to get back to his best after a slew of injuries this year and the last.

Noah Lolesio could also have another shot in the pivotal position in San Juan but the still-developing 22-year-old has yet to convince he is ready for the pressure of a World Cup.

The outhalf conundrum aside, Wallabies staff were impressed by the work of a makeshift team in Mendoza where a number of unlikely heroes emerged.

Utility back Reece Hodge, who was dropped for the England series, directed the team with aplomb in the second half after Cooper limped off.

Promoted in place of the concussed Dave Porecki, hooker Folau Fainga'a shrugged off his record as a dodgy lineout thrower to put in one of his best matches in a gold jersey.

Hooper's replacement, Fraser McReight, stepped up in the captain's absence, adding punch to an untried back row featuring debutant Jed Holloway.

Hunter Paisami ensured the injured Samu Kerevi was not overly missed with a lively performance in the centres with Len Ikitau.

The “youth group” have more work in advance of them as Michael Cheika’s Pumas look to bounce back in San Juan. Hooper may not be ready for a quick return from home to Argentina.

Experience may be lacking in Rennie’s starting 15 but heart is unlikely to be in short supply.