Nic White returns for Australia as Quade Cooper retains place for South Africa Test

Michael Hooper will surpass George Gregan for the most Tests as captain

Quade Cooper retains the No 10 role for Australia for Saturday’s clash against South Africa in Brisbane. Photograph: Patrick Hamilton/AFP via Getty Images

Quade Cooper retains the No 10 role for Australia for Saturday’s clash against South Africa in Brisbane. Photograph: Patrick Hamilton/AFP via Getty Images

 

Rugby Championship: Australia v South Africa, Brisbane, Saturday, 8.05am Irish time – Live Sky Sports Arena

Nic White returns to the Wallabies starting XV for the second Rugby Championship Test against South Africa inside a week, while Quade Cooper’s match-winning performance against the world champions last weekend has ensured he starts again in Brisbane on Saturday.

The experienced White gets the nod alongside Cooper at halfback in the only change to Australia’s backline, earning his first start for a year after replacing Tate McDermott, who suffered a shin injury, at half-time on Sunday.

Skipper Michael Hooper will surpass George Gregan for the most Tests as captain in his 60th match wearing the armband when he runs out at Suncorp Stadium in a settled backrow alongside Lachlan Swinton at blindside flanker and number eight Rob Valetini.

In the frontrow, Taniela Tupou will also start – for just the second time in 2021 – against the Springboks at his home ground, where the Wallabies are undefeated since 2016, winning eight straight Tests at the Brisbane stronghold. Tupou is joined by the returning James Slipper and Folau Fainga’a at hooker.

As expected Cooper, who kicked the decisive penalty after the siren on the Gold Coast on Sunday, was named in Dave Rennie’s starting XV. The 33-year-old will make his 72nd international appearance after returning to the Test arena with a bang in the 28-26 upset of the Springboks, capping an assured performance in which he kicked a perfect seven-from-seven penalties with the dramatic match-winner.

He retains the No 10 jersey despite the return to fitness and availability of James O’Connor after a seven-Test absence this year.

“It’s not just game day, it’s the way they’re training, they’re preparing. He looked sharp and we were confidant Quade was ready to go,” Rennie said of Cooper’s sensational return.

“We’re not scared of making courageous decisions. We’ve got to back ourselves if we think they’re the right person.”

A second victory in under a week would secure the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate for the Wallabies, but Rennie said Australia would be wary of a Springboks side still smarting from last week’s defeat.

“We were really proud of the effort from our men last Sunday and we’re well aware of the ferocity that a wounded Springboks outfit will bring to Suncorp Stadium,” Rennie said. – Guardian

AUSTRALIA: Tom Banks; Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete; Quade Cooper, Nic White; James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a, Taniela Tupou; Izack Rodda, Matt Philip; Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper (capt), Rob Valetini.

Replacements: Feleti Kaitu’u, Angus Bell, Tom Robertson, Darcy Swain, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.

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