Mercurial playmaker Quade Cooper may have hurt his chances with the Wallaby selection process following his remarks about the “toxic” environment of the Wallaby set-up with Robbie Deans, but with the arrival of former Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, the 25-year old is likely to see a reprieve into the team.
“I think Quade is an outstanding player. I’m now in a position to control exactly who is going to play and who isn’t,” said new coach Ewen McKenzie.
“I look forward to the challenge of selecting the team. I’ll be picking the team that I think can beat the All Blacks. I’m really looking forward to that task. I think we’ve got a really good bunch of players.
“I think we’ve got great depth.”
Wallaby and Reds scrumhalf Will Genia, who has extensive experience with Cooper, has said that the duo are excited for McKenzie’s coaching of the national squad, but won’t take their relationship with the coach as a guaranteed selection.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to work with him [McKenzie] here and see the good things he’s capable of doing,” said Genia.
“You can’t hide the fact that Ewen’s always been a big fan of Quade’s, but just like every other player in Australia we’re going to have to prove ourselves.
“Everyone has a clean slate and everyone has to prove they’re worthy of the jumper again.”
Rebels star James O’Connor was picked ahead of Quade Cooper for the British and Irish Lions series, with a mixed response following the series loss and his off-field behaviour.
“Obviously, I’ve had a good look at the last three games,” said Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie when asked about James O’Connor’s performance.
“I’ve seen James O’Connor out there playing, but I’ve never coached him. There’s a bunch of players like that, so I’ll need to work all that out.”
Following the conclusion of the Super Rugby tournament, the Wallabies will be preparing for the Rugby Championship fixture against the All Blacks in Sydney on 17 August 2013.