Will Quade Cooper’s incendiary comments torch the Wallaby camp?
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Quade Cooper continues his good form. (AFP PHOTO / Michael Bradley)
It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about injured Wallaby fly-half Quade Cooper, that’s immaterial. The real issue is that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Cooper is the smoke – the only remaining question is the location of the blaze.
“There are a lot of people who are afraid to say what they feel, so they just go along with it and nothing is going to change. That’s why I feel so strongly as a player.
“I don’t want to be involved in the toxic environment and that’s how it is at the moment”.
Never in my near 50 years of covering rugby has anyone, player or official, used such a damaging word about the code.
There are only two possible reasons for Cooper’s extraordinary outburst. He wants the ARU to tear up his contract for code violations so he can switch to rugby league and team up with his close mate Sonny Bill Williams at the Roosters, or he’s nailed the real problems within Wallaby ranks.
I tend to believe it’s the latter.
With my cards on the table, I’m no longer part of the inner sanctum as I was in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. But think back to how every player, coach Robbie Deans, and even ARU boss John O’Neill have been interviewed this season.
Recall their body language, the look in their eyes, their facial expressions. All three have been synonymous with “I don’t want to be here, but I must”.
There’s been no positivity in their reactions, or answers. More like “let’s get this over and done with as quickly as possible”.
It’s been the same with the NSW Waratahs this season, the worst in the franchise’s history with 12 losses in 16 games, eight of those losses on the trot.
But not with the Queensland Reds, even though they didn’t retain their Super Rugby title. Ever since president Rod McCall and coach Ewen McKenzie teamed up in 2010, the Reds have been positive, transparent, and successful.
Prior to that the Reds were a basket case. Toxic would have been a good description in 2006, finishing 12th among the 14 sides, then going on to finish last in 2007, 12th in 2008, and 13th in 2009.
With the McCall-McKenzie combination at the helm, they were seventh among 15 in their first season, and first-time champions in their second. A huge turnaround.
And I’m quite convinced the same will happen to the Waratahs next season, now Roger Davis is the new president and Michael Cheika the new coach.
Which brings us back to Quade Cooper and his smoke inside the Wallaby camp, where he has been far more active injured than he’s been on the paddock all season.
“All I want to do is fix the problems, and get on with it and win rugby games.
“But if that is to say that Ewen (McKenzie) is the new coach of course I would support that. That’s not to say I’m not supporting Robbie (Deans), he’s done a lot for me as a kid coming through”.
That last comment smacks of five bucks each way, covering all bases.
But clearly there are massive problems within the Wallaby ranks, and it’s the only way to explain why the men in gold are world beaters one day, easybeats the next.
There’s also a clear indication senior Wallabies are playing no small part in the problem.
Cooper has only fanned the glowing embers, he hasn’t been the cause, although he may well be a part of it.
When the Reds were a basket case, only a clean-out fixed the malaise. The same will apply to the Waratahs.
Which begs the question, has Quade Cooper started a fire that will clear out the Wallabies?
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