Quade Cooper at centre of massive Wallabies development ahead of World Cup

The playmaker is recovering from a ruptured achilles tendon, but could be back soon.

·5-min read
Eddie Jones and Quade Cooper, pictured here with the Wallabies.
Eddie Jones says Quade Cooper is on track for a return with the Wallabies. Image: Getty

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has revealed Quade Cooper is on track to play at the Rugby World Cup despite limited minutes for his club team in Japan. The playmaker is recovering from a ruptured achilles tendon, and last month ticked a box to qualify for upcoming relegation/promotion matches by playing one minute in a match.

The 35-year-old ran on for just 60 seconds during Kintetsu Liners' final regular season match of the year, which made him eligible for the play-offs. Under league rules, all players must play at least one match through the season in order to qualify.

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Jones said he visited Cooper in Japan last week and revealed he was progressing well. The Wallabies play their first Test of the year against South Africa in Pretoria on July 8, with the World Cup getting underway in France in September.

The Division One wooden-spooners, Kintetsu face the Urayasu D-Rocks on May 7 in a match that Cooper could target for his return. "He's due to play in a couple of weeks ... and everything's on song. He's progressing really nicely," Jones said on Monday.

Jones also said blockbusting centre Samu Kerevi, who ruptured his ACL playing sevens at the Commonwealth Games last year, will also return in May. Kerevi's club team Suntory Sungoliath are set to face Kubota Spears in the semi-finals.

Melbourne Rebels lock Matt Phillips and flanker Rob Leota are also set to return before the end of the Super Rugby Pacific season. "We've got a number of players coming back, which is really promising," Jones said. "It creates this nice selection pressure that the players who keep improving and the players who keeping showing that they've got an appetite to be the best in the world will get selected."

But one player who remains on the outer is veteran lock Rory Arnold, who was left out of the Wallabies' squad for a three-day training camp last month. Arnold isn't playing for Australia after he elected to remain in Japan and train after his club Hino Red Dolphins withdrew from the competition after a bar brawl.

Quade Cooper, pictured here in action for the Wallabies against England in 2022.
Quade Cooper in action for the Wallabies against England in 2022. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The 30-Test forward could have swapped clubs in Japan or even returned to Australia to present a case for Wallabies selection. But Jones said he wouldn't select Arnold if he wasn't playing rugby, joking that he was working on the factory line at Hino making trucks.

Asked on Monday if had spoken to Arnold on this trip to Japan, Jones was equally as cutting about the lock's decision not to play rugby. "I didn't go to any mahjong clubs," the coach said.

"If he's not playing, it's very hard to get selected. I can't play him if he's playing mahjong. You're playing mahjong, well, it doesn't get you on the team."

Dave Porecki not getting carried away with Wallabies hype

Meanwhile, Waratahs hooker Dave Porecki revealed on Tuesday that he isn't getting caught up in the hype of potential Wallabies selection. Porecki is one of eight hookers who have featured in Wallabies squads over the past two seasons, as is seemingly among the top two options at the moment.

"I've never been in a place where Wallabies is talked about so much week-to-week, but obviously it's the build-up to a massive year so it's always going to be in the media," Porecki said. "But first and foremost, Eddie has come out and said if you're not playing well or you're not playing footy, it's hard for him to pick you.

"So I personally don't go into games thinking I need to play well because of the Wallabies. I just go into games thinking I need to play well and this is what I love doing and it's my job and I want to play well for my team.

"So if that gets you into the Wallabies frame, then it gets you into the Wallabies frame. But I think for everyone here, yeah, there's some nice match-ups coming up but at the end of the day, we want to win this game."

with AAP

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