Rugby World Cup 2011

Cooper to play fullback?

Cooper to play fullback?

QUADE COOPER may start at fullback and Berrick Barnes at first five if Kurtley Beale is ruled out of Sunday’s Rugby World Cup semifinal showdown with the All Blacks, says Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

Beale was forced to leave the field during his side’s quarter-final match against the Springboks with a hamstring injury.

Should he fail to recover in time, then the Wallabies still have options to fill the void left by the talented custodian.

Adam Ashley-Cooper could shift from centre to fullback, with Anthony Faingaa coming into the midfield, or James O’Connor could don the No 15 jersey allowing Lachie Turner to play on the wing.

But Deans might be looking at another option, which is to play Cooper at fullback and Barnes at first five.

Cooper had a mixed bag against the Boks, kicking poorly, making a number of errors and looking uncertain.

It was a contrast to the performance of Barnes, who provided great experience and a calming influence when he came off the bench.

Deans was not opposed to the idea of moving Cooper to fullback and Barnes into the pivot role for the trans-Tasman showdown this weekend.

“Yeah, well we've seen that already in games. There’s a number of possibilities,” was his response when asked if that was a possibility.

The news was better on the other two Wallabies players under injury clouds.

Centre Pat McCabe's injured shoulder had improved and the team management were "reasonably confident" he would be available for the semifinal.

And prop Sekope Kepu was expected to be declared fit after rolling his ankle in the clash with the Springboks.

The Wallabies name their team on Friday.

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