Quade Cooper backed to return to Wallabies for 2023 RWC
Wallabies halfback Nic White has backed Quade Cooper to make a full recovery from his ruptured Achilles tendon and return in time for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
The gifted five-eighth suffered the devastating injury in Australia’s stirring 41-26 comeback win over Argentina in Mendoza on Sunday.
The 34-year-old will miss the rest of the 2022 season at the very least but has 13 months to get ready for the 2023 World Cup in France, which would likely be his international swansong.
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Quade Cooper after being injured during the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship game against Argentina. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
“He’s a pretty measured guy,” White told reporters on Tuesday.
“He’s seen it all throughout his career. He’s one of the most professional guys I have come across, where he’s at the moment.
“The lows don’t get him too low and the highs, he certainly doesn’t ride them. He’s a very consistent guy with his emotions and he was in pretty good spirits considering the injury that he just had, already talking about the path that he’s happy to take on.”
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Cooper doesn’t have to look too far for inspiration.
His close friend Sonny Bill Williams ruptured his Achilles at the 2016 Rio Olympics and was back playing Super Rugby eight months later and for the All Blacks in 10.
“I’ve got no doubt that… he’s the right type of guy that will probably come back sooner than expected and be in some phenomenal shape when he comes back,” White said.
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“You know, you can see it in the way he does everything.”
Cooper, who is now playing his club rugby in Japan, wrote on Instagram that he was “ready and prepared” for the arduous rehabilitation ahead.
Achilles tears are one of the worst and most debilitating injuries an athlete can suffer.
“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. Want to thank both my teammates and the Argentinian players for their support and care when I got injured,” Cooper said.
“My teammates who continue to help me learn and grow each day I will miss you all but be supporting your journey as I continue mine. Our coaches for believing in me and continuing to push my growth.
“Our medical team who put so much time and energy into each and everyone of us. To the fans your (messages) of support have not gone I noticed.”
Reece Hodge and Quade Cooper of the Wallabies celebrate. (Getty)
Mr Fix-It Reece Hodge replaced Cooper at five-eighth in the second half in Mendoza and guided the team to victory in mature fashion.
That makes him an option for Sunday’s second clash with the Pumas in San Juan although specialists Noah Lolesio and James O’Connor shape as more likely starters in the No.10 jersey.
Lolesio started all three Tests in the series loss against England before Cooper returned from a calf injury.
Noah Lolesio of the Wallabies chats with teammates Quade Cooper and Duncan Paia’aua. (Getty)
“We’ve got great depth in all positions from 1-15 and 10 is no different,” White said.
“There’s a real opportunity there for whoever grabs it. It’s next man up. Noah’s taken these opportunities when he’s got them. So has James. And we’re just very lucky.
“We’ve had guys coming in and out, we’ve had plenty of injuries but with any sort of injury there becomes an opportunity and it’s pretty much how most of our careers start, through the misfortune of somebody else.
“Whoever grabs it, though, they’ll be ready to go.”
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