Wallabies selectors stick with Cooper - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies selectors stick with Cooper

By Jim Morton 21/05/2009 05:15:12 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies inside centre Berrick Barnes has praised Test selectors for keeping the faith with erratic Reds teammate Quade Cooper.

Cooper could consider himself slightly fortunate to be retained when Australia's 29-man extended squad was named on Thursday.

The 21-year-old started the Super 14 in fantastic form after being a revelation in the Wallabies spring tour of Europe but struggled at five-eighth late in the competition as Queensland finished second last.

Barnes ultimately took over the main playmaking duties from Cooper for his last two matches but likened his teammate's struggles to his own in his spluttering second year of Super 14 in 2007.

"It's good they've shown faith in him (Cooper)," Barnes said.

"Two years ago I had a pretty rotten year in terms of form and we were going bad as a team but they (Test selectors) showed some faith."

That faith saw Barnes, the last man chosen, excel in the 2007 World Cup as an understudy to the injured Stephen Larkham.

The highly-talented Cooper is understood to be seen as much as an inside centre/fullback option by Australian coach Robbie Deans than five-eighth where Barnes is the obvious back-up to Matt Giteau.

The Waikato product scored a match-winning try on Test debut in Italy in November and also played strongly at inside centre in a tight loss to Wales in Cardiff.

"He played every game for us (the Reds) this year and at times it was a pretty depleted side and he was trying to lead that around, so I think a lot of the criticism of him was unfair," Barnes said.

"He's not far away from getting it all right, Quadey. I think he's made some good improvements this year and it'll be good to see him grow again at the Wallabies level."

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