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Cooper has two chances to show Test panel a seven-month break hasn't dulled him

Date

Jim Morton

Elusive … Wallaby Quade Cooper out-steps a Welsh defender during a Rugby World Cup game in Auckland; and inset, as ...

Elusive … Wallaby Quade Cooper out-steps a Welsh defender during a Rugby World Cup game in Auckland; and inset, as water boy for the Reds against the Chiefs last weekend. Photo: Getty Images

QUEENSLAND Reds drawcard Quade Cooper has two auditions, including a shock Super Rugby start on Saturday night, to regain his Wallabies No.10 jersey in next month's internationals.

Two days after Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie said that for Cooper to return from knee surgery this weekend would be a miracle, the 35-Test playmaker will make his long-awaited reappearance when the Reds play the last-placed Lions at Suncorp Stadium.

Rather than being eased off the bench, Cooper will start at five-eighth just four days after his first full contact training session.

Water boy  ... Quade Cooper assisted for the Reds against the Chiefs.

Water boy ... Quade Cooper assisted for the Reds against the Chiefs. Photo: Getty Images

He is confident he will immediately be able to produce the same jinking runs and playmaking nous which helped to win last year's Super Rugby and Tri Nations titles.

''Confidence isn't something that I lack,'' he quipped yesterday. ''Going out there and playing footy is what I love to do. If those opportunities [to step around players] arise, I know I've done the hard work. It's been a tough time, and a very long time at that, and I'm just so excited to be back as a part of the [Reds] team.''

If he is able to come through the Lions clash and the pivotal encounter with the Brumbies in Canberra the following Saturday with no mishaps, Cooper will be squarely in the frame to play at least one of two back-to-back Tests in early June.

Australia meet Scotland in Newcastle on June 5 before taking on Wales in Brisbane in the first of a three-Test series against the Six Nations champions four days later.

With James O'Connor also sidelined by injury, Test fullback Kurtley Beale has become the frontrunner to play five-eighth following two stand-out displays at No.10 for the Melbourne Rebels.

Cooper, who has not played since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament seven months ago at the end of his disappointing World Cup campaign, admitted thoughts of his own Wallabies return remained ''a long way away''.

''That's not my focus at all,'' he said. ''My focus is solely getting out there this weekend and playing good footy. If those things arise, we'll think about them when they come. I know on the weekend the Lions will be coming for me and they will be coming for the team.''

Cooper's return means stand-in Reds five-eighth Ben Lucas reverts to fullback, knocking Luke Morahan onto the bench, but playmaking centre Mike Harris will keep the goalkicking duties. The Reds made two other changes to the starting side which upset the Chiefs 42-27 on Sunday, with front-rowers Greg Holmes and Saia Faingaa replacing Ben Daley and James Hanson, while boom winger Chris Feauai-Sautia is set to make his debut off the bench.

Reds: 15. Ben Lucas, 14. Dom Shipperley, 13. Anthony Faingaa, 12. Mike Harris, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 8. Scott Higginbotham, 7. Liam Gill, 6. Jake Schatz, 5. James Horwill (c), 4. Rob Simmons, 3. James Slipper, 2. Saia Faingaa, 1. Greg Holmes. Res: James Hanson, Ben Daley, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Eddie Quirk, Nick Frisby, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Luke Morahan.

AAP

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all
 

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