Cooper ruled out as Hodges' replacement - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cooper ruled out as Hodges' replacement

By David Beniuk 15/10/2008 08:58:45 PM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra centre Matt Cooper has been ruled out as a possible replacement for Justin Hodges in Australia's Rugby League World Cup campaign.

Australian Rugby League chief Geoff Carr has confirmed Cooper has a groin injury and is unavailable, although Dragons officials were unable to provide details of the problem.

"The medical staff at the Australian Rugby League contacted St George and Cooper and he's got a groin problem so he's not in the frame," Carr told AAP.

"He was considered but he's definitely not available."

The Kangaroos have delayed naming a replacement for Brisbane match-winner Hodges, who will undergo a shoulder reconstruction next month, because selector Bob Fulton is on a pig-shooting expedition in the Northern Territory.

"He's taken a satellite phone so that he can be contacted in an emergency but obviously day-to-day he must be off that," Carr said.

"We're hopeful we'll be able to contact him (tonight).

"We haven't got a tight timeline, they don't go into camp until Saturday, and we want to observe the proper process and make sure all the selectors are consulted."

Hodges and Cooper's unavailability, as well as Manly star Jamie Lyon's unwillingness to play representative football, have fully exposed the hole created by former Dragon Mark Gasnier's flight to French rugby.

The loss of four world class centres has been compounded by the eligibility furore surrounding the World Cup after Australia recalled forward Anthony Tupou from the Tongan squad last week.

Carr has all but ruled out another raid on Australia's weaker opponents which means Penrith speedster Michael Jennings, who was named in the Kangaroos preliminary squad, will remain with Tonga.

"We made an early call on Tupou but the reality is Jennings would be a key player with Tonga but he might be a bit player for Australia, so my personal view is that he can stay where he is," Carr said.

"I've spoken to the coach (Ricky Stuart) about it, he agrees.

"The selectors may have another view, we may have a debate about it but certainly my view is we will allow him to play with Tonga."

Manly winger Michael Robertson, who scored a hat-trick in the NRL grand final, is likely to remain with Scotland for the same reason.

Former Kangaroos winger Jarryd Hayne, now with Fiji, is ineligible for Australia after his switch was rubber-stamped by the RLIF.

Several players within the Kangaroos squad, including likely wingers Israel Folau and Brent Tate, can cover centre and with the pickings so slim a utility back is the most likely replacement for Hodges.

Broncos fullback Karmichael Hunt and utility Darius Boyd appear to be the favourites to join the squad, despite both having been investigated by Queensland police over sexual assault allegations in Brisbane.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2020 AAP

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