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Cooper focused on Springboks clash

Quade Cooper insists he will not be distracted by off-field activities after being named in Australia's starting XV to face South Africa on Saturday.

The Queensland fly-half, the subject of intense media attention in recent days over his future in rugby union, has been included by coach Robbie Deans in the team for the clash in Pretoria. Cooper has been the centre of attention in the Wallabies team ever since it emerged that he has received a lucrative offer to switch codes and join Parramatta Eels.

But the 22-year-old, returning from a two-week suspension after a dangerous tackle on Morne Steyn when the sides last met in Brisbane, said: "I feel real good. Having two weeks off was in some ways a good thing for the body, just getting a bit of extra time to freshen up and then get ready. That was the biggest key ... but (in terms of my) headspace, I'm sweet."

He added: "When you get out on the field nothing else can bother you or get to you because that's your time and space.

"Some people like to read a book and just really chill out. I love to get out there and play some footy."

Cooper, though, conceded he was still not sure which side of the rugby border he belonged on, insisting that for now his mind was with Australia's Tri-Nations campaign.

He added: "I'm still undecided, my future's still uncertain.

"It's about these two games and all I can control is playing well in these games, doing my best for the Wallabies and for my team-mates."

Loose-forward Higginbotham has been rewarded for his outstanding form during the Super 14 for the Reds. Ben McCalman is also a new face in the set-up having won his first cap against the Springboks during the Test in July.

Both Australia and South Africa have no chance of winning the title after New Zealand sealed their 10th crown during last week's 29-22 win in Johannesburg.


From Belfast Telegraph