AUSTRALIA LOOK SET to field a much-changed back line in their Rugby World Cup semi-final with New Zealand on Saturday, with coach Robbie Deans hinting that he’d even go so far as to consider moving Quade Cooper to full-back.
The likely failure of first-choice No15 Kurtley Beale to recover from the recurrence of a hamstring strain suffered during last weekend’s quarter-final clash with Tri-Nations rivals South Africa has complicated the Wallabies selection process.
The most logical option available to Deans would entail moving either Adam Ashley-Cooper or James O’Connor to full-back, but the struggles of Quade Cooper, when considered oppostite the consistency of Berrick Barnes, offer a less orthodox alternative.
Cooper looked particulary unsettled against the Springboks, making a number of handling errors in possession, but is used to defending from the full-back position. Asked if he’d consider allowing Cooper to replace Beale and moving Barnes to five-eighth, Deans told Fox Sports Australia that there were “a number of possibilities.”
The Kiwi didn’t shy away from noting Cooper’s failures, but claimed he was confident in the 23-year-old’s ability to bounce back.
“He’s a pretty resilient character. Clearly he wouldn’t have been happy with his performance, but everybody made mistakes…
“Some of our best made mistakes, but collectively they worked their way through it.”
The Wallabies take to the field against the All Blacks at 9am on Sunday.