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Quade Cooper starts for Wallabies v Boks

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Andrew Phan/Wallabies Media

Quade Cooper will make a remarkable return to the Test arena after being selected at flyhalf for the Wallabies showdown with Rugby World Cup holders, South Africa, on the Gold Coast on Sunday night.

The eToro Rugby Championship match will also see skipper Michael Hooper equal George Gregan’s record for most Tests as Wallabies captain, when he leads the side out for the 59th time at Cbus Super Stadium. 

In his 112th Test, the match will also see Hooper overtake George Smith as the fifth most capped Wallaby of all time

The fixture will also be the starting debut for Angus Bell, the youngest member of the squad as he joins hooker Folau Fainga’a and tighthead prop Allan Alaalatoa in the front row, with the latter set to bring up his 50th appearance for the Wallabies.

After returning to the Test side via the pine last week, Izack Rodda earns a starting berth in the second row alongside Matt Philip.

The backrow remains unchanged for the third consecutive Test with blindside flanker Lachlan Swinton and number 8 Rob Valetini joining Hooper, who will fill the familiar number seven jersey.

Reds nine Tate McDermott will partner Cooper in the halves with the midfield combination of Samu Kerevi and Len Ikitau earning another opportunity together.

Cooper’s last Test was more than four years ago, when he ran out against Italy at Suncorp Stadium in June 2017. The mercurial flyhalf has a strong record against the Springboks, boasting nine wins against the reigning world champions over his 70-Test career.

A settled back three sees Marika Koroibete on the right wing, Andrew Kellaway on the left wing and Tom Banks at fullback.

Western Force hooker Feleti Kaitu’u is one of two potential debutants named on the bench. Gold Coast local James Slipper will play his 107th Test in front of his family and friends with Taniela Tupou set to be unleashed as the reserve tighthead prop.

Melbourne-born Rob Leota is the second potential debutant in the squad, with Brumbies backrower Pete Samu retaining his spot in the match-day 23 after an impressive impact in Perth last weekend.

Nic White will bring experience late in the game at scrumhalf while Reece Hodge will also play his 50th Test for Australia on Sunday night.  The electric Jordan Petaia rounds out the match-day 23.

Australia has won eight of their last 10 matches against the Springboks at home, but the two sides have never met at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast in the storied 88 year playing history. 

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “We’re thrilled for Quade that he’s earned another opportunity to pull on the gold jersey for his country.”

“He’s had a really positive impact since joining the group, put pressure on us as selectors and he’s excited to get out there and perform on Sunday night.

“The match is also a huge occasion for our leader Michael Hooper. He’s been in phenomenal form and to equal George Gregan’s record as the most Tests as captain of Australia is a testament to his leadership and resilience.

“We also can’t overlook Allan and Reece who will bring up 50 Tests for their country, another outstanding achievement for two ultimate professionals who leave it all on the field every time they wear the jersey.”

Wallabies team to play South Africa at Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast on Sunday 12 September, 8:05pm AEST
1. Angus Bell (8 Tests)
2. Folau Fainga’a (17 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (49 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (26 Tests)
5. Matt Philip (15 Tests)
6. Lachlan Swinton (4 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (111 Tests)
8. Rob Valetini (10 Tests)
9. Tate McDermott (8 Tests)
10. Quade Cooper (70 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (39 Tests)
12. Samu Kerevi (34 Tests)
13. Len Ikitau (5 Tests)
14. Andrew Kellaway (5 Tests)
15. Tom Banks (17 Tests)
Replacements
16. Feleti Kaitu’u*
17. James Slipper (106 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (31 Tests)
19. Rob Leota*
20. Pete Samu (11 Tests)
21. Nic White (38 Tests)
22. Reece Hodge (49 Tests)
23. Jordan Petaia (10 Tests)
*denotes uncapped

ENDS

6 Nations

Farrell Names 37 Player Squad For 2022 Guinness Six Nations

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Andy Farrell and the Ireland coaching group have named a 37 player squad ahead of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship which commences in early February.

The squad will be captained by Johnny Sexton who earned his 100th cap for his country against Japan during the November international window.

Ireland will host Wales, Italy and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium over the course of the Championship while also travelling to Paris and London to face France and England respectively.

There are two uncapped players named in the extended squad – Ulster’s Michael Lowry and Connacht’s Mack Hansen. Both have trained with the national squad in the past few months, Lowry during the Vodafone Summer Series in July and Hansen during the Autumn Nations Series in November.

Michael Lowry training with Ireland during the Vodafone Summer Series, July 2021

Connacht’s Cian Prendergast will join the squad for the training camp in Portugal as a Development Player. The former Ireland U20 player has made nine appearances for Connacht this season.

James Lowe has picked up a muscle injury that has ruled him out for a number of weeks.

Andy Farrell, Ireland Head Coach, commented: “In November we challenged the group to get up to speed quickly so that the team could perform at international level. The same will apply for this Six Nations campaign, we need to be at our best against Wales on the opening weekend.

“We have a strong squad with competition for places across the board, there is a nice blend of experienced internationals and guys who have had their first taste of this level in the past 12 months.  The games in November gave us a good foundation to build on and areas where we know we will have to improve.

“It will be an exciting Championship with so many strong squads and impressive performances across the board during the Autumn.”

Ireland’s opening fixture of the 2022 Six Nations Championship is against Wales on Saturday 5th February. A week later, the squad will travel to France to take on Les Bleus in Paris. In Round 3, on Sunday 27th February, Ireland host Italy at the Aviva Stadium and then travel to Twickenham to take on England two weeks later.

In the final round of the Championship, Ireland host Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 19th March.

All games will be available on free-to-air television in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. ITV (NI) will broadcast all of Ireland’s games, RTE (ROI) will broadcast the games against Wales and England while VIRGIN (ROI) will broadcast the games against France, Italy and Scotland.

IRELAND Guinness Six Nations Squad 2022

Backs (17)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 33 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 27 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 10 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 4 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 27 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 96 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 12 caps
Mack Hansen (Connacht) uncapped
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 53 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 16 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 30 caps
Michael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge) uncapped
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 92 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 101 caps CAPTAIN

Forwards (20)
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 6 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 18 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 25 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 22 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 12 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 52 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 112 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 65 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 23 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 16 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 45 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 79 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 2 caps
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 40 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 40 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 2 caps
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 3 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 35 caps

Development Player
Cian Prendergast (Connacht)

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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6 Nations

Munster Announce Six More Contract Extensions

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that six players have signed contract extensions at the province.

Diarmuid Barron, Jack Daly, Ben Healy, Keynan Knox, Jeremy Loughman and Simon Zebo have all put pen to paper on new contracts.

Hooker Diarmuid Barron has signed a new two-year contract having made 20 appearances for Munster to date, including his Champions Cup debut against Castres last month.

The 23-year-old Tipperary native is a product of Cashel RFC and Rockwell College and has also lined out for Garryowen in the AIL, he was promoted from the Greencore Munster Academy to the senior squad last season.

Castleisland RFC flanker Jack Daly has signed a two-year contract extension having made four appearances for the province to date.

A Garryowen clubman, Daly is a former Ireland U20s international and has made two appearances so far this term having moved up to the senior squad from the Academy last summer.

Ben Healy lines up a place-kick earlier in the season for Munster ©INPHO/Ashley Crowden

Ben Healy has signed a one-year contract extension with the 22-year-old Tipperary out-half scoring 144 points in 27 Munster appearances to date.

A product of Nenagh Ormond and Glenstal Abbey, Healy has also lined out for Garryowen in the AIL and is enjoying a strong first year in the senior squad having won the province’s Greencore Academy Player of the Year award last season.

Loosehead prop Jeremy Loughman has signed a new two-year deal having scored four tries in 57 Munster appearances.

Loughman initially joined Munster from the Leinster Academy on a short-term contract in December 2017 but quickly established himself as a key squad member and made his 50th appearance against Ulster last year.

Tighthead prop Keynan Knox has signed on for two more years at Munster having scored two tries in 20 appearances for the province.

The 22-year-old South Africa native moved to Munster at the end of 2017 with the Young Munster clubman spending three years in the Academy before moving up to the senior squad last season.

Munster’s all-time leading try-scorer with 62 tries, Simon Zebo has signed a new two-year deal having scored two tries in four appearances since returning to the province from Racing 92 last summer.

The Ireland international and former British & Irish Lion is a product of the Academy and has made 148 Munster appearances since his debut in 2010.

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6 Nations

Six Munster Players Sign Contract Extensions

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Joey Carbery, Liam Coombes, Chris Farrell, Jean Kleyn, Jack O’Sullivan, and Greencore Munster Rugby Academy player and Alex Kendellen have all put pen to paper on new contracts. 

The six players have signed two-year contract extensions that will see them remain with the province until at least June 2024.

Since joining the squad in 2018 Ireland international Carbery has made 30 appearances in red, scoring 264 points.

During this time, the out-half has been unlucky with injuries but has returned to show his quality on each occasion and while he is currently sidelined with an elbow injury, it’s a huge boost to have a player of his calibre commit to the province.

With four tries in 10 appearances, Coombes has shown his quality and versatility since moving up to the senior squad from the Academy in 2020.

A product of Skibbereen and CBC, 24-year-old Coombes plays his Energia AIL rugby with Garryowen and has lined out on the wing and outside centre for the province.

In his second year of the academy, 20-year-old Alex Kendellen will advance to the senior ranks ahead of the 2022/23 season.

A product of PBC, the UCC back-row forward has made four appearances to date with his first start coming against Connacht in the United Rugby Championship last weekend.

Kendellen, who captained the Ireland U-20s last year, was one of the stand out performers at the U20 Six Nations Championship held in Wales in June 2021.

Ireland international centre Chris Farrell has scored eight tries in 52 Munster appearances since making his debut in September 2017.

Farrell has earned 15 international caps since moving to Munster from Grenoble and has been an ever-present for the province since returning from an abdomen injury last month.

Ireland international lock Kleyn is closing in on a century of Munster appearances, scoring 12 tries in 97 games since joining from the DHL Stormers in 2016.

Kleyn has been one of the province’s most consistent performers over recent seasons and is currently sidelined with a knee injury.

Back-row forward O’Sullivan has scored two tries in 21 Munster appearances since making his debut in 2019.

A product of PBC, the 23-year-old UCC clubman made his Champions Cup debut in January 2020 and made 10 appearances last year after graduating from the Academy.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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