Hooper and Cooper out of Wallabies World Cup squad | Sunday Observer

Hooper and Cooper out of Wallabies World Cup squad

13 August, 2023
Michael Hooper-Quade Cooper
Michael Hooper-Quade Cooper

Flanker Michael Hooper and fly-half Quade Cooper have been left out of Australia’s World Cup rugby squad by coach Eddie Jones.

Hooper, who has captained the Wallabies for the best part of the last decade and 80-cap fly-half Cooper were the headline omissions in the 33-man squad.

Lock Will Skelton and scrum-half Tate McDermott have been named as co-captains for the tournament.

Australia face Wales, Fiji, Georgia and Portugal in their World Cup pool. Hooper, who has played 125 times for Australia since 2012, was named co-captain of the Wallabies with James Slipper for the Rugby Championship earlier this year but only played in the opening loss to South Africa before being sidelined by a calf injury.

Cooper, 35, had been expected to be Australia’s starting fly-half in France after recovering from a ruptured Achilles to return to the squad.

Carter Gordon, who played his first Test last month, will now travel to France as Australia’s sole specialist number 10 with Ben Donaldson, who has played two internationals, backing up as a utility player.

There was also a surprise in the captaincy with France-based lock Skelton taking the role in partnership with McDermott, who led the side for the first time against New Zealand last week.

Uncapped teenager Max Jorgensen was also named in the squad as an outside back despite having played only a handful of Super Rugby matches before his season was cut short by a knee injury sustained in late May.

Australia are languishing in eighth place in the world rankings and have yet to win a Test in four attempts since the return of Jones as coach in January in place of Dave Rennie. Jones remains bullish and his 33-man squad has an average age of 26 with an average of 20 Test caps per player.

That is the lowest at a World Cup for Australia since the 1991 tournament which the Wallabies won.

“The experts have written us off. No-one believes we can do it, but we believe,” said Jones.

“I’ve backed the young blokes because they earned it. Simple as that. I haven’t handed it to them. They grabbed it.

“It’s exciting for me to go to work each day with these guys who are just busting to improve, to learn and to get better.

“The team that improves the most is generally the team that will win it and that’s the task we have set ourselves.

“We have been improving and we will continue to improve.”

Australia squad for the 2023 World Cup:

Forwards: James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Pone Fa’amausili, Zane Nonggorr, Blake Schoupp, Angus Bell, Dave Porecki, Matt Faessler, Jordan Uelese, Richie Arnold, Nick Frost, Will Skelton, Matt Philip, Fraser McReight, Tom Hooper, Rob Valetini, Rob Leota, Langi Gleeson.

Backs: Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Tate McDermott, Nic White, Carter Gordon, Ben Donaldson, Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, Samu Kerevi, Jordan Petaia, Max Jorgensen, Andrew Kellaway, Marika Koroibete, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Suliasi Vunivalu, Josh Kemeny.