After two defeats to kick off the new Eddie Jones era for the Wallabies, the pressure is mounting ahead of a defining Bledisloe series that opens in Melbourne in two weeks’ time.
An ex-All Black believes that the midfielder quadruple cooper he is on the bench after failing to deliver enough in the first two rounds.
Cooper was on the defensive in Pretoria against the Springboks when the Wallabies pack was overwhelmed while against Argentina the team suffered lapses of poor play and ended up being beaten 34-31 despite taking the lead with five minutes remaining.
Speaking on Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown, former All Black Jeff Wilson struggled to see the reasoning behind selecting Cooper at 35 years of age.
With his history of catastrophes against the All Blacks, he argued now was the time to look elsewhere.
“The Wallabies will look at the Bledisloe Cup and see they can completely turn their season around in one game,” Wilson said.
“Eddie will know that, they’ll still find a way to get confidence even though they’ve lost two games.
“I still can’t understand why is Quade Cooper running this team? Because he’s not delivering.
“We know he doesn’t deliver against the All Blacks. How can he be wearing the No 10 jersey in two weeks’ time? Seriously?”
Cooper’s Wallabies comeback in 2021 under Dave Rennie came after the Bledisloe series had already been whitewashed 3-0 by the All Blacks.
They went on a run of five wins before Cooper returned to his Japanese club ahead of the end-of-year tour. In 2022 Cooper ruptured his Achilles against Argentina in the first game of the year which ruled him out for the season.
He has yet to play the All Blacks since returning to the international level with his last outing against New Zealand in 2016 off the bench at Eden Park.
Former All Black No 8 Stephen Bates said it’s too early to make a call on Cooper after returning from injury but was looking forward to Eddie Jones’ mind games in the lead up.
“He’s coming back from an Achilles injury, he needs more time in the saddle.
“What I do really like about Eddie Jones is all the mind games that he plays. I really enjoy it, I do.
“The reason why I enjoy it is it gets people talking. He’s not your stereotypical coach who says ‘yeah I hope we play well it will be a good battle’
“He plays mind games and gets people talking about the Test and that’s what we want.”
Wilson wanted the All Blacks to pick a full strength side in order to ‘do a job’ on the Wallabies which would allow for new selections in the second Test.
All Black veteran Sam Whitelock hasn’t had any game time either as he recovers from an Achilles injury suffered from Super Rugby.
“Ultimately I’d love us to win the Rugby Championship. Clearly I’d like us to protect the Bledisloe Cup,” Wilson said.
“We’ve got a second Test though in Dunedin, but I think they should select their strongest side. Go over there [to Melbourne] and do a job.
“Bench the Liberty Cup, bench the Bledisloe Cup, the rugby championship and then you use Dunedin for whatever you need to find out.”