Cooper to win 50th cap in Cardiff

Date published: November 29 2013

Wallabies pivot Quade Cooper will reach the prestigious 50-Test milestone in Saturday's clash with Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

Wallabies pivot Quade Cooper will become Australia's 40th player to reach the prestigious 50-Test milestone in Saturday's clash with Wales in Cardiff.

He will now be aiming to celebrate his milestone game as part of an Australian team that has made three changes to its starting line-up.

Those changes include the return of Adam Ashley-Cooper at outside centre and Nick Cummins on the wing, along with Christian Leali'ifano shifting to his preferred role in the number 12 jersey.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has also re-shuffled his bench with hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, prop Benn Robinson, second-row Kane Douglas, back row Dave Dennis and centre Mike Harris the five changes made.

For the third straight week the Australians have named an unchanged starting forward pack.

“We're treating this week a little bit like our Grand Final, so it's pleasing to bring in some big game players with a lot of experience,” said McKenzie.

“I think everyone will be extremely motivated by the circumstances of the game and the opportunity to play Wales in their backyard. For us to finish on a high would be good reward for a lot of the hard work being done.

“There has been a lot of change and different things happening, so for the guys to push through that has been terrific.”

The honour comes at the end of a watershed year for the 25-year-old Reds playmaker, who was also given Australia's vice-captaincy duties throughout the end-of-year tour.

Cooper boasts an impressive strike rate of winning 31 of his 49 Tests since debuting against Italy in 2008 and has accumulated 124 points in his Test career to date.

McKenzie congratulated him on reaching the 50-game honour.

“To get to 50 games is an outstanding achievement and it's fitting that he reaches the milestone at the end of a really good individual season,” McKenzie said.

“He has really enjoyed the responsibility of playing at 10 for Australia. He is a very proud guy and proud of his involvement.

“This team is very important to him and I'm personally quite pleased for him.

“He's continually improving both on and off the field and definitely isn't the finished article, which is promising.

“But, he won't be too caught up in the milestone externally, his focus will be on how he fits into the team and his responsibility of managing this game.”

McKenzie said Saturday would be a good opportunity to finish the season on a high note while also continuing Australia's eight-game win streak over Wales.

“We are trying to be a consistent side which can come up with answers no matter what the circumstance or environment,” McKenzie said.

“We are enjoying playing in big venues in front of hostile crowds, but being consistent in that space is where we want to be.

“Our journey at the moment is around that and four wins in a row to end the season would be fantastic.”

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Dave Dennis, 21 Nic White, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Bernard Foley.

Date: Saturday 30th November
Venue: Millennium Stadium
Kick-off: 18:00 (GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Alain Rolland, John Lacey (both Ireland)