23 Aug 2012

Cooper back at first five for re-jigged Wallabies

12:38 pm on 23 August 2012

Mercurial first five Quade Cooper has been thrust back into the Wallabies starting line-up for the second Bledisloe Cup test against the All Blacks at Eden Park.

Cooper makes his long-awaited return from a serious knee injury he suffered during last year's World Cup and will team with halfback and Queensland team-mate Will Genia for first time this season.

Genia will captain the side in the absence of the injured David Pocock.

Cooper's return pushes Berrick Barnes, who played at first five in last week's loss in Sydney, out to the midfield.

Fullback Kurtley Beale has been dropped after making several glaring errors in the Sydney defeat.

Wing Adam Ashley-Cooper switches to fullback with Drew Mitchell coming off the bench to start on the right wing.

The two changes to the starting forward pack from last week's Bledisloe clash have both been forced by injury, with Brumbies front rower Ben Alexander slotting in at tighthead for Sekope Kepu, while Michael Hooper replaces Pocock at openside flank.