BRITISH and Irish Lions defence coach Andy Farrell thinks the omission of stand-off Quade Cooper from Australia’s squad for the forthcoming three-Test series has made his job easier.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans opted to leave Cooper out of a 31-man squad preparing for the first Test on 22 June, favouring Kurtley Beale as back-up to first-choice stand-off James O’Connor.
Farrell told reporters the unpredictable Cooper is a “handful” for any defence and he would have chosen the Queensland Reds playmaker for any side he was selecting.
“I’m pleased. He’s a bloody good player,” Farrell said. “If I was the coach, I’d want him in my side. But, having said that, I don’t know the background or ins and outs of why he isn’t selected. He’s certainly a handful. He brings a lot to the party, so I’m pretty pleased.”
Farrell said the omission of Cooper wouldn’t entirely rob the Wallabies of flair but leaves them without their most unpredictable playmaker.
“I think they have got a few backs who can pass,” he said. “There’s [Kurtley] Beale back in the squad and [James] O’Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper.
“They’ve got a magnificent backline but I think Quade adds something a little bit different.”
The Lions conceded two tries and scored one in a 22-12 win over a Queensland Reds team guided by Cooper on Saturday night, and the touring side’s captain, Sam Warburton will not be surprised if he ends up facing the Australian this summer.
“I haven’t really watched enough Super Rugby to comment on the Australians but, having played against Quade, I know he’s top class player and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up in the Australia squad,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, Queensland Reds winger Luke Morahan has been added to the Wallabies squad as cover for Brumbies winger Joe Tomane, who was ruled out of the opening Test with a toe injury.
The 23-year-old Tomane, who played the only Test of his career against Scotland last year, sustained the injury during training on Monday, the Australian Rugby Union said in a statement.
“An MRI scan subsequently revealed a small toe fracture in his left foot,” the statement said, adding that Tomane was expected to be fit for some part of the three-match series.
Morahan, who scored a brilliant individual try for the Reds in the side’s 22-12 loss against the visitors at the weekend, was due to join up with the squad yesterday.
Like Tomane, the 23-year-old Morahan played his only Test for the Wallabies against Scotland last year.