Quade Cooper had been away from the international scene for a long time, but he certainly made up for lost time on his return today.
The out-half was named to start for Australia against South Africa in the Rugby Championship, his first appearance for the country since 2017.
The Aussies had convincingly lost their last three test games, all against New Zealand. This led some to suggest there was a sense of panic surrounding Cooper's reintroduction to the side, something coach Dave Rennie denied when speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald:
There’s certainly no panic. Some guys are selected on recent Test matches and for Quade, it’s been training.
He’s trained really well, he was very close to selection last week and got the nod this week. We think he’s the right man to help get us around the park.
The 33-year old would more than justify his selection.
Facing South Africa for the first time since 2019, Australia would run out 28-26 winners on the Gold Coast.
They had Cooper to thank for the victory. Not only would he convert all eight of his attempts from the tee during the contest, but he would also nail this long-range penalty with the final play of the game to hand his side the win.
Before today, Quade Cooper hadn't played for Australia for four years.
He would go 8/8 from the tee on his return, including nailing this penalty at the end to win it 🤯pic.twitter.com/bI0lh9spZY
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) September 12, 2021
The Australian public were delighted for the player.
— Matt Giteau 🇦🇺 (@giteau_rugby) September 12, 2021
Cooper has gone through some tough times in recent years, including being told he was not eligible to become an Australian citizen.
Born in New Zealand, he moved to Australia as a 13-year old and has yet to qualify for for citizenship in the country. His lack of an Australian passport even stopped him competing for the country's sevens side at the 2016 Olympics.
Having played his club rugby in Japan since 2019, this was a triumphant return for him. After the game, he thanked the home crowd for their support.
— Wallabies (@wallabies) September 12, 2021