A genius last week, possibly mad this week - Wallaby coach Michael Cheika has certainly stuck it all on the line by selecting Quade Cooper at first-five.

For the first time in 12 years the Bledisloe Cup is up for grabs in the deciding test. The Wallabies on the basis of their performance last week were a chance, a real chance. And then they picked Cooper at No 10. And then everyone started to think differently and more importantly, everyone asked why?

The Wallabies aren't short of options at first-five. Bernard Foley is a solid bet - a steady as she goes sort of player who kicks most of his goals and poses more of a threat with the ball then he's given credit for.

Matt Toomua is another good option. Strong, big defender and calm. He's also in form. Mat Giteau has been around forever and he can handle the pressures and complexities of playing No 10 and really the Wallabies would be in good shape with any one of those three at the helm.


So why pick Cooper? The undoubted fourth ranked option and a man whose worst nights have come at Eden Park.

A man who has been subjected to the most intense scrutiny from both the All Blacks and New Zealand public and wilted each and every time.

There's talent aplenty within Cooper - but it's talent that has counted for precisely nothing over the years as he's mentally imploded when he's faced the All Blacks.

But presumably his past explains the present. If Cooper is to be considered a genuine option to go to the World Cup, he needs to prove he can play under pressure. And could there be a more intimidating environment for him than Eden Park with the Wallabies one draw away from taking back the Bledisloe Cup?

Is there a tougher assignment in world rugby than facing the All Blacks in Auckland and it would seem that Cheika wants to throw Cooper into the cauldron to see what happens.

Australia, after all, have the toughest World Cup draw with England and Wales in their pool and what's the point in taking Cooper - anyone for that matter - if there is doubt they can perform in the biggest games.

Is picking Cooper to play the All Blacks at Eden Park any different to the All Blacks selecting Lima Sopoaga to play the Boks at Ellis Park?

It's the nature of World Cup year. Coaches need answers to questions they suspect will become relevant further down the track.


"They are in the same boat as us," said All Black coach Steve Hansen about the Wallabies.

"They have got to answer some questions for the World Cup. They have got the same restraints we have. They have five test matches so they have to make some decisions. World Cup year brings its quirks and you roll the dice."