Rugby Union


Deans reserves praise for everyone but error-prone Cooper

WHILE delighted his team showed great resolve to overhaul the Pumas 23-19, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is well aware the Test five-eighth position remains a problem area.

Deans admitted last night that during the Test he contemplated replacing Quade Cooper, who had another erratic performance at No. 10. The Wallabies are waiting for James O'Connor to return from a hamstring injury, and are clearly concerned Cooper is down on his confidence after being successfully targeted by the Pumas. O'Connor will miss the South African/Argentinian leg of the tournament.

Deans was asked if there had been any thought of taking off Cooper and switching fullback Berrick Barnes to five-eighth. "Yes, it did cross our mind," Deans said. "We were to-ing and fro-ing there for a while. Dom's [Shipperley] injury to his hand complicated things a little bit. "We didn't want to be left exposed off the bench."

Otherwise, Deans praised a side that overcame an enormous deficit to win their second Rugby Championship match in a row. "There was great character shown, especially with a lot of young blokes playing tonight. But we did cough up a couple of tries that were unnecessary, and as a result had to work hard to get out of trouble," Deans said.

"But the Argentinians deserve credit, because no side has played with any fluency against them."

Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe was relieved his first major Test as leader did not end in embarrassment. "It was great to come back from 19-6 down, and it required tremendous spirit by the players to win from there," he said.

"Whilst we didn't play flowing rugby at times, I was very proud of the character shown, because in that position a lot of teams would have thrown in the towel."

While winger Digby Ioane won the man-of-the-match award, new halfback Nick Phipps showed he was up to the task, and was instrumental in setting up the match-winning try. Though he did not charge the line like Will Genia, Phipps made up for that with an excellent fast pass that helped the Wallabies play with pace and momentum.

Waratahs second-rower Kane Douglas's first Test was also a quality performance.