Cooper, Carter finally set to clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cooper, Carter finally set to clash

By David Beniuk 28/10/2010 08:21:12 PM Comments (0)

Quade Cooper's long-awaited first battle with All Blacks champion Dan Carter will finally take place in Hong Kong on Saturday, but it almost certainly won't last 80 minutes.

Suspension and injury have combined to rob the rugby public of a showdown between the world's best five-eighth, Carter, and Wallabies excitement machine Cooper.

They will finally lock horns in the fourth Bledisloe Cup Test, but Carter is unsure how long he will last in his comeback from ankle surgery.

"I'm really pleased with the 40 (minutes) I got through (in a trial match) last week and getting through these trainings, they've been quite long," Carter told reporters on Thursday.

"I'm definitely confident I'll be able to get through the first 40 and then sort of play it by ear, maybe 50 or 60 and make a decision there.

"The last thing I want to do is set myself back by playing too much."

Carter, who had pieces of floating bone removed from his right ankle, is relishing the opportunity to show Cooper who's boss.

"He's an exciting young talent," Carter said.

"He's a great stepper and runner of the ball but he's always a great distributor and you never know who he's going to pass to.

"(But) if you can upset them at set-piece time then it takes away a lot of his time and a lot of his plays so that's the key.

"It's a matter of just cutting down his time and space and putting him under pressure."

Cooper will take plenty of confidence out of his last meeting with Carter, when he bagged 31 points in a Super 14 upset by Queensland over the Crusaders in February.

"He had a fantastic game," Carter said.

"He really split our defence open with a lot of his plays so, if he gets good front-foot ball and gets that combination working with (halfback) Will (Genia), then he's a very dangerous player.

"Hopefully our forward pack can have them going backwards. If not it's going to be a tough day at the office for us."

Wallabies prop Ben Alexander will play his first Test since suffering a knee injury against Fiji in June when he packs down against the All Blacks.

Alexander lost 11 kilograms of muscle after surgery and will return with around 100 minutes of Sydney club rugby under his belt.

"I thought I was getting the leg ripped out of its socket, it was pretty sore," he said.

"But then the pain went away and I thought, 'Oh no, I just squealed like a girl, I'm not even injured'.

"I'm feeling good, absolutely ready to rumble, I'm not worried at all, fitness is as good as it's ever been."

Alexander is one of two changes to the Wallabies' last start run-on side, with winger Drew Mitchell returning from a hamstring problem and his replacement Lachie Turner earning a bench spot.

Australia: Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom (capt), Nathan Sharpe, Mark Chisholm, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson. Res: Saia Fainga'a, James Slipper, Dean Mumm, Richard Brown, Luke Burgess, Berrick Barnes, Lachie Turner.

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