The battle for the Qantas Wallabies No 10 jersey to take on the British & Irish Lions will heat up in Brisbane on Saturday when a fit-again James O’Connor goes head-to-head with Quade Cooper.
The Melbourne Rebels will arrive at the Suncorp Stadium hoping to claim a hat-trick of wins following their recent victories over the Stormers and Waratahs. And the return of O’Connor after an injury in round 13 of Super Rugby against the Blues is bound to give them a boost.
But waiting to greet them, and trying to prove his worth, will be the Queensland Reds pivot Cooper. Left out of the original 25-man squad named by Aussie head coach Robbie Deans, the game will give him another chance to prove his worth.
The Qantas Wallabies go into camp for the first time in Sydney on Sunday and there are still six spots up for grabs. Cooper wants one of them and will be looking to show he is the man to link up with his Reds team mate Will Genia against the Lions.
With O’Connor’s Rebels team mate Kurtley Beale likely to re-start his faltering season down in club rugby at Randwick this weekend, Cooper has a great chance to impress on home soil.
Also hoping to boost their chances of being among the added six players will be Rebels scrum half Nic Phipps and lock Hugh Pyle. The game will also give Qantas Wallabies back row man Scott Higginbotham the chance to put one over his former team mates when he returns as Rebels skipper.