Cheika to stick with Cooper-Foley pairing

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Fans might need to get used to the sight of Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley as the Wallabies’ 10-12 combination, coach Michael Cheika says.

Neither player had the chance to show their arsenal on Saturday night, but Cheika saw enough to be convinced the duo were worth sticking with.

“The two playmakers didn't get much of a chance, really,” he said.

“They were trying to work off bits and pieces when they had it and it's something they'll have to look at in the review but we'll be persevering with that.

“We want to build that combination up and work with that.”

Flyhalf Cooper brought some extra potency with his kicking game, showing that element from just the first minute of the match.

Cooper’s selection  was a major talking point both in New Zealand and Australia and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the enigmatic pivot didn't have an opportunity to show his true potential on Saturday night.

"He was alright," he said.

"It's really hard to play if you don't get any set piece ball of any quality. They didn't really get any ball so it's hard for a backline to function when you're not getting ball like that. What ball he got was usually in the air.

"He did pretty well. It's not a one-man game. It's not Quade Cooper against the All Blacks, it's 23 Australians versus 23 All Blacks.

"I think for a guy who hasn't played for a long time, he went pretty well."

While the Wallabies showed more fight in Wellington than in the opening Test in Sydney, Australia went tryless in a match overseas for the first time in 23 Tests.

Cheika said their lack of opportunity in attack, of which Foley and Cooper were microcosms, was disappointing.

“We didn't have a lot of ball and then we were scrambling towards the end, trying to get something done when we had a little bit.

“But we didn't generally get any opportunities to play footy. They defended very well, obviously, very well.”