Quade Cooper to make his Wallabies return after four years

Four years after he last pulled on the gold jersey, Quade Cooper has been given the Wallabies No.10 in a desperate bid to help Australia end their current three-game winless streak.

A shock call-up to the squad in July, Cooper has been waiting patiently for his chance to represent Australia again and has now been given the nod to start against the Springboks at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Despite impressing at training, Cooper missed out on a stunning return in the Bledisloe series. But with pressure mounting on current No.10 Noah Lolesio, and with James O'Connor yet to return from injury, the veteran Queenslander has been given the call-up.

"He's the best option," Rennie said of Cooper after naming his team on Friday.

"He's been with us for around four weeks, has trained really well; we felt that we still need more balance to our game and he's got the skill set to deliver that, whether it's by hand or through his boot."

Rennie rejected the suggestion that Lolesio had merely needed a spell despite a tough run against the All Blacks, particularly in Sunday's match in Perth where he missed a simple early penalty goal and was generally let down by his own decision-making.

"I'm not sure about low on confidence [but] he was disappointed with last week," Rennie said of his young playmaker. "We had a number of opportunities to nudge in behind them [All Blacks]; he's still growing his game management. I think it's an opportunity for him to sit back, take stock; it will certainly give him some time to reflect.

"We've talked about watching a lot of footy...so when he goes into games he's got a really good understanding of where kicking space is potentially and then confirming that on the field. He's still a young man, he's played six Tests in a row this year [but] we've been very happy with Quade and think he's the right man for the job."

Rennie also confirmed utility Reece Hodge had been considered at fly-half, but wouldn't be drawn on why he had missed out.

"There was a huge amount of discussion around Hodgey as well as an option at 10; I'm not gonna divulge all the reasons why [he was overlooked] as we don't want to tip our hat to South Africa.

"He was very much in the selection frame and hence the reason he's on the bench...we certainly don't want to play conservatively but we don't want to be reckless either. Hodgey's been great, he's filled holes all over the place, he's Mr Fix-it and he's played just about every position outside of 10 this year.

"I know he's keen to pin down a spot, he's certainly applying pressure."

A 70-Test veteran, Cooper has the experience the Wallabies have been lacking in the halves pairing this year, with both Tate McDermott and Lolesio earning just six caps each, but after four years out of the Test scene, he was always going to be a controversial selection.

Rennie has made just two more changes to his starting side with Angus Bell making his starting debut after an impressive display off the bench against the All Blacks in Perth, while Izack Rodda has been shifted into the starting second row and coming off the pin last week in his return to the Wallabies set-up.

Bell joins Folau Fainga'a and Allan Alaalatoa, who'll be playing his 50th Test, in the front row, while Rodda links up with Matt Philip in the second row. The backrow remains unchanged with Michael Hooper set to overtake George Smith as the fifth most capped Wallaby of all time.

The accolades continue for Hooper who will, in his 112th Test, equal the great George Gregan's record for most Tests as Wallabies captain, when he leads the side out for the 59th time at Cbus Super Stadium.

"The match is also a huge occasion for our leader Michael Hooper. He's been in phenomenal form and to equal George Gregan's record as the most Tests as captain of Australia is a testament to his leadership and resilience," Rennie said.

"We also can't overlook Allan and Reece who will bring up 50 Tests for their country, another outstanding achievement for two ultimate professionals who leave it all on the field every time they wear the jersey."

Cooper is the only change to the Wallabies backline with McDermott retaining his starting position, creating a strong halves combination, while the centre pairing of Samu Kerevi and Len Ikitau has been given another chance and Marika Koroibete, Andrew Kellaway and Tom Banks round out the starters.

Cooper also fronted the media on Friday, saying the mixed reaction to his selection, much of it disbelief, wouldn't play on him like perhaps it had earlier in his career.

"I think that's the thing with sport, it allows people to have their opinions," he said. "They're able to voice it through various avenues these days with social media and everything else like that; they're entitled to their opinions.

"For me I'm enjoying this opportunity, I'm enjoying the growth I've been fortunate to have in this space and everybody's opinions are going to be divided, and that's always the case with sport.

"It's not my position to try and sway people one way or the other, that's their opinions and they're totally allowed to have that."

Rennie has named two potential debutants of the bench, with Western Force hooker Feleti Kaitu'u named, while Gold Coast local James Slipper will play his 107th Test with Taniela Tupou set to be unleashed from the bench for a fourth straight match.

Melbourne-born Rob Leota is the second potential debutant in the squad, with Pete Samu retaining his spot in the gameday 23 after an impressive impact in Perth last weekend.

Reece Hodge will also play his 50th Test in Wallaby gold when he comes off the bench, while Nic White will bring experience off the bench and Jordan Petaia round out the match day 23.

Wallabies: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Tate McDermott, Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper, Matt Philip, Izack Rodda, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell. Replacements: Felti Kaitu'u, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.