Cooper benched for trip to Wallabies' graveyard
RUGBY UNION: Quade Cooper has been dumped to the bench in a shake-up of the Wallabies backline for tomorrow's Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks at Eden Park.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has restored Bernard Foley to five-eighth to allow the powerful Reece Hodge to shift to his preferred inside centre position.
Henry Speight replaces Hodge on the wing, giving the backline more balance with every player playing in his natural position.
With Will Genia returning to French club rugby, Nick Phipps beat Nick Frisby to the job as starting halfback.
Cheika has named an unchanged forward pack with explosive flanker David Pocock to return from his broken hand from the bench.
With Pocock coming back, Scott Fardy has been left out of the matchday squad.
The coach named rookie locks Rory Arnold and Adam Coleman, resisting recalling the reliable second-row pairing of Kane Douglas and chief lineout caller Rob Simmons.
The axing of Cooper could be a blessing for the talented No.10.
He had an unhappy experience the last time he played at Eden Park when overshadowed by his opposite Dan Carter in the All Blacks' 41-13 win in 2015.
It was almost merciful when he was sin-binned with 30 minutes remaining.
Australian defence coach Nathan Grey said playing the 22-year-old Hodge at No.12 made perfect sense.
"He's got a lot of experience playing in that position at Super Rugby,” Grey said.
"He's a big body, carries the ball very well and he's got a good passing game that he uses, and he's got good speed.
"All those attributes are very positive to have in a 12. He defends there at 12 anyway for us, so he's used to being in that environment.”
The Wallabies are bidding to break a 30-year hoodoo at Eden Park as well as deny the All Blacks a world-record 18th consecutive Test win.
Wallabies: Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Samu Kerevi, Reece Hodge, Henry Speight, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Lopeti Timani, Michael Hooper, Dean Mumm, Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (capt), Scott Sio. Reserves: James Hanson, Tom Robertson, Allan Ala'alatoa, Rob Simmons, David Pocock, Nick Frisby, Quade Cooper, Sefa Naivalu.
All Blacks: Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Ryan Crotty, Anton Lienert-Brown, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Kieran Read (capt), Jerome Kaino, Matt Todd, Samuel Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Liam Squire, Ardie Savea, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa.