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New Zealand

Cooper return gathers pace

10th July 2013 11:06

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Ewen McKenzie sat beside Quade Cooper

Could return: Quade Cooper

Ewen McKenzie has labelled Quade Cooper an "outstanding player" as the Australian's Test return gathers pace ahead of the Rugby Championship.

Cooper has been out of the international picture since he called Robbie Deans' team environment "toxic". However, with the New Zealander now gone from the post - and McKenzie keen for Australia to become an attack-minded side - it seems the mercurial number ten could return.

"I think Quade is an outstanding player. I'm now in a position to control exactly who is going to play and who isn't," McKenzie said.

"I look forward to the challenge of selecting the team. I'll be picking the team that I think can beat the All Blacks. I'm really looking forward to that task. I think we've got a really good bunch of players.

"I think we've got great depth."

Meanwhile, scrum-half Will Genia said both he and Cooper were excited about the possibility of playing again at national level should McKenzie select them.

"We've been fortunate enough to work with him (McKenzie) here and see the good things he's capable of doing," the half-back told reporters in Brisbane.

"You can't hide the fact that Ewen's always been a big fan of Quade's, but just like every other player in Australia we're going to have to prove ourselves.

"Everyone has a clean slate and everyone has to prove they're worthy of the jumper again."

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