It would be rugby’s version of the incredible journey but Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels says it’s conceivable Quade Cooper will be Australia’s starting five-eighth at the World Cup.
Unwanted by Brad Thorn at the Queensland Reds, Cooper’s shift to Melbourne and his efforts from day one of pre-season have convinced Wessels the mercurial five-eighth will make a big statement in 2019.
Whether it ends with a starring role at the World Cup in Japan will be fascinating.
Wessels confirmed a first appearance for his new Super Rugby team comes this Saturday when the Rebels face the Brumbies in Canberra.
The fact that Cooper, 30, was invited to a Wallabies early-season camp in Sydney will have provided him with a shot of self-belief that he can add to his 70 Tests, Wessels told AAP.
“It’s great for him after the changes that he’s made, that he’s in the mix there,” he said.
“Quade will know there’s a long way to go between now and being the starting 10 at the World Cup but, as long as he’s working hard, it’s within the realms of possibility for him.”
While the Wallabies lurched through their season-ending northern hemisphere tour, Cooper spent November training with new Super Rugby teammates in a new city, having walked away from 12 seasons with the Reds.
He had instantly taken a leadership role at the Rebels and introduced fresh ideas which Wessels hopes can lift them above their ninth-placed finish last season.
“We’d be really silly if we didn’t take some of Quade’s thinking. He’s got a lot of experience and a really good mind for the game,” Wessels said.
“I didn’t really know him prior to this but my experience with him so far has been excellent.
“He’s engaged in what we’re doing and importantly he believes in the way we want to play.”
(Source:TVNZ One News)