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Cooper wins battle for 10 jersey as Australia name side for English Test
The sides will meet at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Saturday.

VETERAN LOCK CADEYRN Neville and hooker David Porecki were handed Australia debuts Thursday in a powerful pack to face England in the first Test, while playmaker Quade Cooper got the nod over James O’Connor.

Neville, at 33, will become the third oldest man to debut for Australia when he starts at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Saturday after being on the fringes of the team for a decade.

The lineout specialist finally gets his chance with Izack Rodda out injured and will partner ACT Brumbies teammate Darcy Swain in the second row – among 12 players from Australia’s top Super Rugby side in the match-day 23.

Porecki also got a maiden call-up with his five years of experience for Saracens and London Irish playing in his favour after a stellar Super Rugby season with the NSW Waratahs.

Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Leota and Rob Valetini join them in the pack with flanker Michael Hooper leading the side again in his 119th Test as Australia look to snap an eight-match losing streak against Eddie Jones’s England dating back to 2015.

Rennie stressed the importance of the lineout maul — where the Brumbies excel — as a crucial part of the game-plan against England.

“The lineout maul is a massive part of the game now,” he said.

“Nev is a very big man… very important to us from the set-piece point of view, very good at the maul, lineout and scrum. Same with Porecki.”

Veteran Cooper won the battle for the No.10 shirt ahead of O’Connor, who failed to make the bench, with Noah Lolesio preferred, and will reunite with fellow Japan-based backs Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete.

Rennie said Queensland Reds star O’Connor still lacked sharpness after a run of injuries.

“He missed a chunk of the second part of the season… had two different injuries and while he’s back and fit he just lacks a bit of sharpness,” he said.

“Quade brings a calmness, obviously masses of experience and he has trained very well.”

Cooper will reignite his partnership with scrum-half Nic White for the first time since leading the Wallabies to five straight Test wins in 2021.

Koroibete slots onto the left wing with Andrew Kellaway on the right to deal with an expected kicking barrage from the English with Len Ikitau and Tom Banks completing the backline.

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“The whole squad has worked hard over the past fortnight for what’s going to be a tough three-Test series against a very good England side,” said Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.

“The honour of representing our country is a massive motivating factor and we’ll be doing everything we can to put in a performance that makes all Australians proud.”

Australia: Tom Banks; Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete; Quade Cooper, Nic White; Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper (capt), Rob Leota; Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain; Allan Alaalatoa, David Porecki, Angus Bell

Replacements: Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Matt Philip, Pete Samu, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Jordan Petaia

– © AFP 2022

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