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Cooper recovers from head-knock, Toomua on bench for Rebels

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Cooper recovers from head-knock, Toomua on bench for Rebels
FILE PHOTO: Australia's Quade Cooper (L) is challenged by Scotland's Nick De Luca during their rugby union international test match at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, November 23, 2013. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne   -   Copyright  Russell Cheyne(Reuters)
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Former Wallabies flyhalf Quade Cooper has passed concussion protocols to retain the number 10 jersey for the Melbourne Rebels, while new recruit Matt Toomua has been named in the reserves for the home Super Rugby match against the Bulls.

Cooper suffered a head-knock in the win over the Queensland Reds over the weekend but had pulled up “fine”, Rebels coach Dave Wessels told reporters on Wednesday.

“He’s passed all of those (concussion) markers, so he’s feeling good,” said Wessels.

Wallabies inside centre Toomua only arrived back in Australia on Monday after being released by English club Leicester Tigers a week early.

Wessels, who coached Toomua at the ACT Brumbies as a defensive consultant to former head coach Jake White, said the 29-year-old would be ready to make an impact despite still getting to know his new team mates and the game-plan.

“We’re delighted to have him,” said Wessels.

“As we build to the back end of the season, (Toomua) being able to relieve some pressure on Quade playing every single minute is very helpful.”

The Rebels are second in the Australian conference, a point behind the Brumbies, but have the perfect opportunity to reclaim top spot while their Canberra-based rivals have a bye this weekend.

Second in the tight South African conference, the Bulls have the same scenario and can leapfrog the leading Sharks with a win in Melbourne.

The Rebels will have to beat the Bulls with a patched-up back row after number eight Isi Naisarani was ruled out with an injured big toe along with blindside flanker Luke Jones for a fractured eye socket.

Angus Cottrell will shift over from openside flanker to replace Jones, with Rob Leota promoted to eight and Richard Hardwick to wear the number seven jersey.

Wessels said his team had ample depth to cover injuries and were in fine nick heading into the run to the playoffs.

“We had a huge number of personal best athletic markers against the Reds in that game,” he said.

“The boys are feeling really good, the bodies are feeling good and we just want to turn it on…”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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