Wallabies halfback Nic White is confident injured teammate Quade Cooper will return in “phenomenal shape” next year to push for selection in Australia’s World Cup squad.
Cooper, 34, is facing up to nine months on the sidelines after rupturing his achilles tendon in the Wallabies’ 41-26 weekend Rugby Championship win over Argentina in Mendoza.
With the World Cup starting in September next year in France, the veteran flyhalf will still have some time on his side before the tournament provided his rehabilitation and recovery goes to plan.
And White can’t see why Cooper won’t tick all the boxes and leaving nothing to chance in his recovery.
“He’s one of the most professional guys I have come across where he’s at the moment,” White said.
“He’s a very consistent guy with his emotions and he was in pretty good spirits considering the injury that he just had, already talking about the path that he’s happy to take on.
“I’ve got no doubt that he’s the right type of guy that will probably come back sooner than expected and be in some phenomenal shape when he comes back. You can see it in the way he does everything.”
Via social media, Cooper said he was “ready and prepared” for his recovery journey.
“Doesn’t mean it will be easy but I know I’ve prepared myself for the challenge ahead by building systems and habits to guide me through each obstacle on my path,” Cooper posted on Instagram.
“Prepare for the storm so you are strong enough to endure it.”
With Cooper out, the Wallabies must find a new starting flyhalf for the second of their two back-to-back Test against Argentina on Sunday morning (AEST) at Estadio del Bicentenario in San Juan.
The obvious options are Brumbies young gun Noah Lolesio and Queensland Reds star James O’Connor.
Both Lolesio and O’Connor weren’t in Australia’s 23-man squad for the weekend win, with utility back Reece Hodge coming off the bench to replace the injured Cooper at flyhalf.
“There’s a real opportunity there for whoever grabs it,” White said.
“It’s next man up. Noah’s taken these opportunities when he’s got them, so has James.
“We’ve had guys coming in and out, we’ve had plenty of injuries, but with any sort of injury there becomes an opportunity and it’s pretty much how most of our careers start, through the misfortune of somebody else.
“Whoever grabs it, though, they’ll be ready to go.”
White said he had been in touch with Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, who returned home early from Argentina for persona reasons after revealing he was not in the right state of mind to lead and represent Australia.
“We’ll stay in contact with him. He’s got a lot of support around him. He’s not on his own now,” White said.
“He’ll be well looked after back there.”