Cooper feels he has Wallaby support
Outspoken Wallaby Quade Cooper feels he has support from teammates in his quest to improve Australian rugby.
Cooper has complained of a “toxic environment” within the Wallabies set-up, claiming he’s unlikely to play for the national team again unless his concerns are addressed by authorities.
He feels there are several problems within rugby, including a lack of appropriate facilities for the team to prepare and train for internationals.
None of his teammates have come out to support the injured five-eighth and at least one media report claims his comments have upset “notable Wallabies”, but Cooper says there’s “no doubt” he has backing from some quarters of the Australian dressing room.
“Other people feel the same but there’s going to be people that are happy with the environment and some that are not happy,” Cooper told Fox Sports’ The Rugby Club on Thursday night.
“I’ve just spoken out about being unhappy and whether (other) people choose to speak up or not, that’s their choice and I leave that to them.
“There’s no doubt there’s support amongst the boys and, like I said, there’s going to be people that are happy and some that are unhappy.”
Coach Robbie Deans claimed the door was open for Cooper to return to the Wallabies when he recovers from a knee injury despite his comments, saying he was open to talking through issues with the disillusioned playmaker.
And Cooper denied his comments were designed to create rifts within the Wallabies as they prepare for this weekend’s Rugby Championship Test in South Africa.
“I hope they improve the team,” the 24-year-old said.
“My comments were not designed to add more division to the team.
“My hope and intent is that things are fixed from this point on and makes it a better environment for people moving forward whether I’m involved or not.”
Minutes after Cooper’s appearance on the television show another injured Wallaby, outside back Drew Mitchell, issued an intriguing but ambiguous comment on Twitter.
“Finding it increasingly difficult to bite my tongue……..,” Mitchell tweeted, failing to elaborate whether he was even discussing Cooper’s comments and whether he supported or disagreed with the Queensland Reds star.
The ARU on Friday released a statement claiming Cooper’s latest interview had left the governing body baffled.
“Much of what was said on The Rugby Club has left us utterly confused,” ARU boss John O’Neill said.
“Quade wants more of a say in the game plan, he wants to play his style of game. He certainly made that clear.
“Yet he also said he could adapt if required.
“He talks of an unhappy environment without elaborating.
“He uses the word `toxic’, an extremely strong descriptor.
“However, when pressed on the issues, he turned to facilities and the Wallabies not having a dedicated place to train.
“We’ve never had these concerns raised previously … Suggesting the Wallabies are under resourced has equally come out of the blue.”
O’Neill said he was most disturbed by Cooper being “firm about not playing for the Wallabies unless things change”.
“If that is how he feels, then that is his choice,” he said.
“The reality is a decision on whether or not he stays in Australian rugby has to this point rested with him since he received an ARU offer in early July.”
O’Neill’s statement didn’t mention whether Cooper was facing disciplinary action over his comments, although Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said in South Africa the door was still open for the disgruntled and injured five-eighth to return.© AAP 2013
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