Rugby: Wallabies door still open for Cooper

Quade Cooper in action at the Rugby World Cup. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Quade Cooper in action at the Rugby World Cup. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Wallaby coach Robbie Deans maintains the door is still open for five-eighth Quade Cooper despite his ongoing criticism of Australian rugby.

The Australian team continued its build-up for Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Pretoria and didn't want to let Cooper's latest round of comments become a distraction.

The injured 24-year-old said he was uncertain about his Test playing future unless his concerns were addressed.

When asked in a television appearance on Thursday night if he would play for the Wallabies if he wasn't injured and was picked in the side, Cooper said he would not.

"No, like I said, it's the environment there at the moment is one that I don't feel comfortable in and if I don't feel comfortable and if I don't feel that I can give 100 per cent for my country and that yellow jersey, that's a very big problem," he told Fox Sports' The Rugby Club program on Thursday.

Cooper, who previously described the environment within the Wallabies as "toxic", made it clear how unhappy he was with the current set-up the national team operated under.

"For me to continue to improve as a player and as a person you want to be involved in the best possible environment and I feel that environment is sort of destroying me as a person and as a player," Cooper said.

He said he believed the Wallabies needed to be better looked after and prepared if they were to perform at their best.

Deans was asked if the door was still open and replied: "yes", adding he was open to talking through the issues with the disillusioned player.

"I haven't seen his quotes (from the television show)," Deans said at a press conference in Pretoria.

"We're concentrating on playing a Test.

"It hasn't been a distraction at all, we've had a good week of preparation."

The Queensland Reds player says he'd love to honour a three-year deal he agreed to with the Super Rugby franchise earlier this year but whether the deal is ratified by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) is out of his hands.

He said he'd been communicating with Deans via text messages since his comments over the weekend, reiterating his spat isn't a personal one between the pair.

But he expressed a further frustration that his talents were being wasted under Deans' current strategies.

"As the five-eighth you'd like to think you've got input into the game plans and sometimes the input goes in one ear and out the other," he said.

Cooper's outburst and his Twitter comment he'd like to play with friend and former All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams have re-ignited speculation he could be headed to rugby league, with Williams expected to join the Sydney Roosters next year.

The ARU broke its silence on the issue earlier on Thursday with a brief statement which said they'd written to Cooper about his comments but didn't disclose if he was facing disciplinary action.

- AAP

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