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Quade will turn to Sonny Bill on the long way back, McReight proves Rennie right, Hodge’s defining moment




Quade Cooper will once again turn to kindred spirit Sonny Bill Williams to find his way back to the Wallabies after his devastating Achilles tendon injury in Mendoza.

The most certain thing is that Cooper is not letting this be the final chapter in his story after collapsing to the turf in pain in the 41-26 win over Argentina.

The Wallabies had started the second half better but were still trailing 19-10 when Cooper was brought down by an invisible ball to the back of his left calf.

What role he will play for the Wallabies next year is yet to be obscured as his injury instantly surrenders another nine tests of experience to his likely successor Noah Lolesio or James O’Connor.

The good playmaker will devote himself to the long rehabilitation needed after the next operation and will look to Williams for advice.

Cooper looked up to the challenge with his tweet after the Wallabies’ excellent second-half rally in Mendoza.

Williams suffered his own torn Achilles tendon at the Rio Olympics in 2016 when his adventure rugby sevens crashed. He took eight months to return and played Test rugby again in 10 months.

Cooper’s timeline is much more condensed. The Wallabies have just five tests ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

It’s not just about coming back physically for that five-test period, but about regaining the confidence to go all out and play your game to the fullest.

It will be tight, but the 34-year-old is still a class above Lolesio as a No.10 option. He adds subtleties to the Wallabies game that Lolesio hasn’t even thought of yet.

Jim Tucker joined fellow Roar pundits Brett McKay and Harry Jones for an Instant Reaction podcast after the Wallabies win. Listen here or on your podcast app

Take the Wallabies’ opening try. His double-pump pass meant Jordie Petaia was put into space, from the blind wing, with perfect timing.

Just after half-time, Cooper made the quick lineout throw that sparked the counterattack which debutant Jed Holloway nearly finished with a try after catching a pass from Tom Wright at yaw height.

The Wallabies need Cooper in France next year but it will be a race.

So what about this Test? The mess in Mendoza became Mendoza’s miracle as the Wallabies found rhythm and more precision.

It took far too long, but no one should underestimate the passion and frenzy of the Pumas and their audience. You play against both.

The character and the fight to stay in the competition was superb when this test could easily have been lost due to a 13-3 deficit.

The key players stepped up when they needed to and the emerging guys did too.

Flanker Rob Valetini was excellent with his lead canters when mistakes and turnovers were made around him.

It was huge when the Wallabies finally started.

Instead of conceding a try right after Cooper’s exit, the Wallabies scored a key try.

The Wallabies have wisely embraced the Brumbies’ fervor for the rolling maul and they’re good at it.

Flanker Fraser McReight pitched there as did hooker Folau Fainga’a later. McReight came in late and did an admirable job in place of Michael Hooper, who was back in Sydney for personal reasons.

Quade will turn to Sonny Bill on the long way back, McReight proves Rennie right, Hodge’s defining moment

(Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)

Don’t be surprised by McReight. He has always been so accomplished. He had to wait behind a better player and no one should have a problem with that. What’s wrong with waiting? Anyone who has seen Holloway’s post-test interview on Stan Sport will know that good things are worth that much more after a wait and the extra determination to make it happen.

And those who pilloried McReight’s non-selection to the Wallabies training squad to face England, please acknowledge that coach Dave Rennie knew what he was doing. He had three good Australia A games against McReight in the Pacific Nations Cup which paid off in Mendoza.

Fainga’a played one of his best tries. It’s taken a while, 29 Tests in all, to get to a point where he’s advancing in the general game, looking super lit and nailing his lineout throws as well as his rolling maul stuff.

Petaia was very good, Hunter Paisami was getting better and better and Holloway looked like a very good candidate for the rugby test.

You must have thought Reece Hodge was closer to quitting Rugby Test than securing his place.

It was as far as Mendoza. All of his experience and composure were channeled into a key 33 minutes as a substitute fly-half. He did not overplay his hand. He just did things efficiently and the Mr Fix-It tag still lives on.

We are all deeply sick of hearing how far he can score goals, but never seeing enough of them. One of his clutch conversions to set the 34-26 buffer looked more like the perfect new iron, with a clean draw, pin on a par three at Royal Melbourne.

Nick Frost getting into position to recover Petaia’s late cross kick is something 2.06m locks aren’t supposed to do. He was also at the center of late line-ups. He is a beauty.

Prop Taniela Tupou was twice late, also snatching charges from the bench.

There were a lot of imperfections to it, but sometimes just showing such character trumps everything. The Wallabies will have to be better in San Juan next weekend.




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