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Barnes backs injured Cooper

Australia international Berrick Barnes has dismissed suggestions Quade Cooper will struggle to win back the number 10 shirt next season when he returns from injury.

Cooper ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the bronze play-off game against Wales at the Rugby World Cup and was forced to sit out Australia's recent two-Test tour of the northern hemisphere. James O'Connor stepped into the chief playmaking role in his absence and received rave reviews after strong showings in both victories over the Barbarians and Wales.

"At the end of the day you've got to understand that Quade's an outstanding player at this level," Barnes told reporters. "Last year he dominated, or earlier this year anyway. Obviously injury has cut him down, and I've been in the same place before as well. So he's going to have time off to get himself right and at the end of the day he should come back better than ever after the time off he's had."

Pressed on his own combination with the prodigious O'Connor, Barnes added: "It seemed to work all right, he did extremely well in his first outing there at Test level and the boys around him provided that help and the forwards provided that platform for him to be able to show what he can to do.

"Across the board there in Wales everybody played their part in that win, and that was the handy thing about it.

"There weren't any individual (stars), it was more of a team thing, and that's the exciting thing moving forward."


From Belfast Telegraph