Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Rugby: Quade Cooper's passport problem

Cooper is still a New Zealand citizen despite not having lived here since he was a teenager. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Cooper is still a New Zealand citizen despite not having lived here since he was a teenager. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Wallabies star Quade Cooper is still a New Zealand citizen, but he'll have to become an Australian if he wants to play in the rugby sevens at the Rio Olympics.

New Zealand won't have a bar of Auckland-born Cooper wearing the silver fern at the Games - All Black sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens says the door is firmly shut on him turning out for the team.

Cooper, who was raised in Tokoroa, still travels on a New Zealand passport, despite not having lived in this country since he was aged 13.

Canberra's strict immigration laws means the Wallabies' No 10 has apparently only just qualified to apply for Australian citizenship.

His nationality was revealed when he made a recent quick trip back to Australia from France, where he plays for Toulon.

It emerged then that he will need to gain Australian citizenship to play for the sevens team at the Olympics in August, Fairfax reports.

Under Games rules, all athletes must be citizens of the country they represent.

Cooper now faces an Australian citizenship test that every applicant must pass.

"He needs to sign those documents to become an Australian citizen and get an Australian passport," Australian sevens coach Andy Friend said.

"Once he's got that, then he is eligible. Then he has to go through the playing side and make sure we pick him."

An Australian Rugby Union spokesman said Cooper had still not completed his citizenship application.

But if Cooper is thinking of switching his allegiance to the land of his birth so he can play at Rio, he can forget about it. Sir Gordon gave that notion a very firm thumbs-down.

- NZ Herald

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