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Australian Rugby
Cooper ready for Wallabies return
ESPN Staff
May 29, 2012
Quade Cooper on his comeback for the Reds, Reds v Lions, Super Rugby, Lang Park, Brisbane, Australia, May 19, 2012
Quade Cooper made an unexpected return at club level © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Quade Cooper | James O'Connor
Teams: Australia | Scotland

Quade Cooper is confident he can step straight into the starting fly-half role for Australia in next Tuesday's Test against Scotland, despite missing seven months of action through injury.

James O'Connor was set to fill the position, but has since been ruled out due to lacerating his liver following a collision with Berrick Barnes. In a further blow to the Wallabies, Kurtley Beale is set for an extended stint on the sidelines, meaning the recently-returned Cooper may be forced to don the No. 10 jersey sooner than expected.

"I'm very confident," said Cooper. "I've played a game-and-a-half for the [Queensland] Reds now, and I was happy with how I went out there. It is now just a matter of continuing to tick the boxes, and if I get the opportunity, I will be putting my hand up and giving it everything I've got.

"I've done a lot of hard work during the seven months I've been out, and they were seven very tough months. But the reason you do that hard work is to be ready for opportunities like this one.

''I also wasn't surprised with how I went in those [Reds] games, because you do so much hard work and that makes you more confident.''

Cooper insists he has matured from a difficult experience at last year's World Cup. After enduring immense public scrutiny during the tournament in New Zealand, Cooper suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament during the third-place playoff against Wales.

"It is something you look at and want to grow from," he said. "And getting injured at the World Cup was also a massive turning point. It put a lot of things into perspective, including how you look at the game, how you prepare for the game and how you recover. You've got to make a lot of changes - including to your mindset.

"I look upon it as an opportunity to better yourself. I've got a lot stronger mentally and physically am in a lot better position. You learn so much about the opportunities you do get and discover you can't take them for granted. You realise you just can't rely on your ability.

"Ability will only get you so far. The rest is just hard work and dedication. My goal is to just keep getting better."

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