Quade Cooper has been locked out of his Castle
Quade Cooper’s comments on Thursday evening about rugby “destroying” him sounded like Dennis Denuto, the inept lawyer from The Castle, pleading his case.
“For me to continue to improve as a player and as a person you want to be in the best possible environment, and I feel that that environment is destroying me as a person and as a player,” Cooper told Fox Sports.
The word ‘environment’ was to feature more than a few times in Cooper’s list of complaints, to the point it became reminiscent of Denuto’s famously useless “it’s the vibe” line of argument.
Because if we examine Cooper’s specific line of complaints, it’s pretty hard to see how they would be destroying him – as a player or as a person.
The complaints expanded upon were the lack of a national training facility for the Wallabies to operate out of and the defensive style of play they’ve adopted of late.
The Wallabies used to have a base of operations, most recently at Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid North coast. The camp, based in the luxury Novotel resort, was heavily used during Eddie Jones’ reign as Wallabies coach, before being quietly abandoned under John Connolly.
Connolly’s reasoning for spending less time at Coffs Harbour was so that the team would, instead, spend more time in the city they would be playing their next Test in.
It’s a sound line of reasoning – over the eight weeks the Rugby Championship is to be played over, the Wallabies play in Sydney, Auckland, Perth, Gold Coast, Pretoria and Rossario. That’s games played in four different countries and on both sides of the Australian continent – which may not require a passport but is no short haul flight.
Would it make sense for the Wallabies to make a trip back to one central location in between every single one of these games?
More to the point, how would we pick a location for this base of operations? The Wallabies are the Australian national side, in a game with a truly national footprint. I’m sure it would be nice for Quade to travel a few hours down the coast to Coffs Harbour and call that home for two months, but is that fair on the players from Canberra, Perth or Melbourne?
Being on the road is simply the nature of the beast for the two month season the Wallabies are playing. It’s hardly the fault of Robbie Deans or the ARU.
As to the style of rugby the Wallabies are playing, fair enough that may be frustrating for a player like Quade Cooper. But this is an issue for him to fix.
The All Blacks play an expansive style of rugby because they have dominant attacking players which see them win playing this way.
On the flip side, the English side played a conservative game, based on solid set pieces and a brilliant kicker, to win the World Cup in 2003. They played this way because their players were dominant at that style of play.
Cooper hasn’t been dominant at international level. If his razzle-dazzle style of play had seen the Wallabies beat the All Blacks, or even consistently push them all the way, then that’s the style the Wallabies would play every week.
If he were to stamp his authority for a whole international season – instead of the occasional game here and there – Deans would be forced to start implementing a game plan which suited Cooper’s style.
I’m sure Deans would prefer his side played an expansive style of rugby, which virtually assured four try bonus points each week. But Cooper’s game doesn’t win enough games consistently to be catered to, so Deans looks to win in whatever fashion seems most likely.
The pity of this situation is that anyone who has been watching the current situation with the Wallabies unfold expected more from Cooper. That he would actually point some fingers, name some names and force some changes at the ARU, which seem needed.
Because, much like the Kerrigan family being forcibly removed from their home in The Castle, something feels wrong with the situation our national team find themselves in.
Call it a vibe.
Just not the environment.