Rugby: Deans slammed for Cooper omission

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

Former Wallaby Greg Martin has launched an incredible assault on coach Robbie Deans, claiming he is sabotaging Australian rugby.

Martin has told Australian radio that Deans clearly holds a grudge against Reds first-five Quade Cooper after he was left out of the 30-man preliminary squad for the British and Irish Lions Test series.

Martin has said beliefs that Deans was put in place to ruin Australian rugby are almost getting to the point where it is true.

Martin said the former All Black has made it about who he personally likes, not about winnings games.

Meanwhile Wallabies and Reds halfback Will Genia still expects partner-in-crime Cooper to start against the Lions and doesn't want to team with any other five-eighth.

Genia and Cooper have formed a superb combination for both the Queensland Reds and the Wallabies over the past four seasons, and Cooper's form has lifted significantly since the No.9 returned from a knee reconstruction last month.

But Genia stressed Cooper also made him a better player and predicted the 24-year-old's continued good Reds form would push him right back into the Wallabies starting 15.

"If he's playing well enough, he's going to be there," the Wallabies vice-captain told AAP.

"I wouldn't want to play with anyone else. We've got such a good understanding.

"The big thing with us is just the trust. We back each other to make the right play."

Wallabies and Reds skipper James Horwill also backed Cooper to earn back his No.10 jersey on the back of top performances over the next eight Super Rugby rounds.

Cooper appears to be paying the price for his attack on the "toxic" Wallabies culture last September but denied any continuing rift with coach Deans on Thursday.

"It's no big issue really because we have a big season ahead of us," Cooper said.

"I've got to do what I can as a player and (Deans) has to do what he thinks best as the coach.

"I've got full respect and trust in what he's doing for the team and I'll continue to do what I can for the team I'm part of now which is the Reds."

Deans' decision to leave Cooper on the outer - when suspended incumbent Kurtley Beale is also out of the picture to deal with alcohol issues - prompted a withering attack by former Test fullback Greg Martin on Brisbane radio.

"He is kidding if he's not picking Quade Cooper," Martin said on Triple M. "In other words, Robbie Deans wants to sabotage Australian rugby.

"He's made it about who he personally likes, not winning games.

"(Cooper) is the only way we can beat the British and Irish Lions - every other (five-eighth candidate) is pretty pedestrian or isn't used to Will Genia.

"There are a lot of five-eighths around who can do things to keep you in the game but he does stuff that wins you the game."

Genia felt Cooper's extra maturity on and off the field in 2013 had shown he'd put the problems of last year behind him, and teammates should have no concerns about welcoming him back into the fold.

"I think Quadey has been outstanding for us at the Reds," he said.

"As we've seen with his attitude and demeanour this year, he's a new man and he's different.

"Last year is last year and we've moved on."

- Newstalk ZB / AAP

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