Rugby: Cooper shrugs off Wallabies omission

Quade Cooper. Photo / Getty Images
Quade Cooper. Photo / Getty Images

Quade Cooper says he is relaxed about being left out of the latest Wallabies camp by coach Robbie Deans.

Cooper, who starred for the Reds with 16 points (a try, four conversions and a penalty) in their victory over the Chiefs at Waikato Stadium, was left out of a "logistics" camp recently by Deans, with whom he has a difficult relationship after the player called the Australia environment "toxic" last year.

Cooper has signed a two-year extension to his contract and many people believe the Wallabies look much better with him in the team alongside Will Genia. The man himself, born and bred in Tokoroa, just an hour's drive from Hamilton, said it wasn't for him to say.

"It's not at the forefront of my mind at the moment," he said. "We've got such an important tournament and year with the Reds. What I can control is in front of me, that's coming out here and doing the best that I can for the team that I'm a part of now. Whether I'm a part of the Wallabies later on or not, it's not for me to make the decision."

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, in his last year with the team and a man who has designs on Deans' job, smiled when asked if he thought Cooper was playing well enough to make the Wallabies this year.

"You're asking the wrong bloke," he said. "I've got a lot of time for Quade as a footballer, but I don't pick the team. I'm happy he's in my team, if he's not in the Wallabies he'll be playing for the Reds against the Lions so we get the win there anyway."

Cooper, meanwhile, was revelling in his partnership with Genia.

"It's good to have him back," said Cooper of his halfback. "He's a guy who really adds to my game and the team's game. We just flow and bounce off each other. We're very good mates and I'm very fortunate to have a halfback of his quality inside me."

- APNZ

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