Wallabies star Nic White backs Quade Cooper for World Cup return, Michael Hooper captain, video


Gone are the days of making predictions, the Wallabies are just concentrating on the here and now – and that starts with getting out of the blocks quicker in their Tests.

Having copped a barrage of injuries over the past two months, the Wallabies farewelled Michael Hooper, for now, and Quade Cooper for the rest of the season over the weekend.

It has left opportunities for players to come and be counted for, especially with the World Cup just 13 months and 15 Tests away.

But with their captain and playmaker both missing, with no exact timeline available for their returns, it has left many questions hovering over the make-up of the side ahead of the crucial 12 months leading into a World Cup.

Halfback Nic White said he had been in contact with Hooper and said the missing Wallabies captain was “stoked” with their gutsy win over Michael Cheika’s Argentinian side.

“We’ll stay in contact with him,” White told reporters on Tuesday.

“Obviously he’s got a lot of support around him. He’s not on his own now.

“The staff put a good plan in place for him. He’ll be well looked after back there and we’ll make sure we stay in touch.”

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In Hooper’s absence James Slipper, the only other Wallaby with more than 100 Tests to his name, led the side and said the win ranked inside the top five he has been involved in during his 12-year Test career.

Whether he can possibly lead the side long-term, however, remains unclear though given the strong emergence of Angus Bell in recent years.

It leaves open the question of who else could lead the side, particularly if Hooper’s stint on the sidelines extends past the Rugby Championship?

White, who is one of the key leaders in the side and is one of only a handful of players who shapes as a walk-up starter at next year’s World Cup, however played down his chances of taking over should Hooper or Slipper not be available .

“If it comes (great), but I’m pretty happy with my role,” he said.

“I’m sitting there behind Slips and I chew the boys’ ears off plenty, so I’ve already got a role within the team – I’ve got plenty of voice and whatnot. I don’t need a title there, and I’m not sure the referees would be stoked with it.”

Nic White says the Wallabies are still looking for answers on how to get off to better starts. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

As for Cooper, the 34-year-old playmaker who looked sharp in their Rugby Championship opener in his first Test of the year, White backed the playmaker to put himself in the selection frame despite his devastating Achilles injury.

“Mate, he’s a pretty measured guy,” White said. “He’s seen it all throughout his career.

“He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve come across where he’s at the moment.

“The lows don’t get into lows and the highs, he certainly doesn’t ride them. He doesn’t get caught up in that.

“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.

“He’s the type of guy that will probably come back sooner than expected and be in some phenomenal shape when he comes back.”

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Nic White hasn’t ruled Quade Cooper out of making next year’s World Cup, but wouldn’t buy into who his replacement should be. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

But White wasn’t about to make a bold decision on who will wear the No.10 jersey through to the World Cup, instead insisting “there’s a real opportunity there for whoever grabs it.”

For now Noah Lolesio shapes as the man most likely to be promoted to the position despite Reece Hodge’s ability to cover the role, with the Wallabies expected to make minimal changes to their team for Sunday’s (AEST) second Test against Los Pumas in San Juan.

What the Wallabies can control, but are still looking for the answer, is how to get off to a better start.

In all four Tests the Wallabies have been slow out of the blocks and White said they needed better discipline and game nous on when and when not to push the ledger.

“I’m not sure (why we’re struggling early),” he said. “That’s the question we’re getting through at the moment.

“We’ll get another chance this weekend to address that.

“I guess it’s getting into the grind of things, getting some positive outcomes early in the game.

“Kind of flirting with having a crack but also understanding the game can’t necessarily be won right there and then in the first 5-10-15-20 minutes, but it can be lost.

“So we want to throw some shots, but we’ve got to make sure we’re not reckless and just giving up territory too easily.”

Meanwhile, hooker Folau Fainga’a, who enjoyed his best game for the Wallabies in the absence of Dave Porecki (concussion), said he was benefiting from playing each match like it was a “grand final”.

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