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On the undercard: Quade Cooper vs ARU

Elisha Pearce Columnist

By Elisha Pearce, Elisha Pearce is a Roar Expert


115 Have your say

    Suspended Queensland Reds player Quade Cooper carries the water. AAP Image/Dan Peled

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    At the ARU head office, nestled in the leafy surrounds of St. Leonards, Quade Cooper is not a popular man. He isn’t the guy who will tow the party line on every occasion.

    He also makes the mistakes like saying what he thinks, and retaining an awful manager.

    Unfortunately for the ARU, and the traditional rugby fraternity, Cooper is also one of the better players in a country where locals love to fall back on the lack of ‘cattle’ excuse at every opportunity.

    So, well done to the ARU. You’ve managed to cut off a talented exponent of the game while also alienating the young fan base.

    Is there anything else you expected to achieve out of this “negotiation is an extension of punishment” fiasco?

    Don’t kid yourself that the Wallabies and Reds are going to miraculously be better teams because he isn’t available anymore.

    Cooper is, in fact, such a good number 10 that Robbie Deans put the career of Matt Giteau on ice once he saw Cooper step around some nice blocking, twirl around another defender and save Australia’s bacon against Italy in 2008.

    There is no one else in Australia that can turn a match as well as Cooper can, short of Will Genia.

    Let’s follow this thought further.

    One of the shortcomings of Deans is that he isn’t often proactive when promoting talent. He often waits for an incumbent is injured before turning to the younger, more talented option. However Cooper is one of the instances where Deans was willing to make a proactive swap.

    People watching Super Rugby knew that selecting Nick Cummins would be a benefit to the Wallabies. It took around two years of injuries, including a shocking experiment with Cooper Vuna, before Deans had to select Cummins.

    A few other ex-forwards on The Roar often lament at Deans inability to pick the best props in the land and balance them with good bench options and substitutions. Deans will favour the incumbent almost every single time.

    Even Deans couldn’t pretend Cooper wasn’t good enough. Soon after the Italy showing he was the preferred option at 10.

    This mess echoes an article I wrote earlier while the “toxic environment” comments were reverberating around as if Cooper had burnt an Australian flag and posted photos on twitter of him kissing a silver fern. I talked about how rugby management has an inability to manage high profile players.

    Quade Cooper was rightly punished for his outlandish remarks made through the wrong avenue of communication. He was fined and banned.

    The ban lost some of its lustre because he was injured, however that was a known factor when they determined a correct punishment. It was also reported that the fine he received was the highest in the history of the game.

    In comparison we have the case of Kurtley Beale who had to settle an assault case out of court. Quade Cooper pressed send on a micro-blogging platform that echoed the sentiments of not just himself but a number of Wallabies. Keeping the lack of fine for Beale in mind while assessing Cooper’s punishment shows he’s been hit fairly hard for his admitted miss-deeds.

    Moving along to the contract situation – which does play out against the backdrop of his outburst and punishment – and we see some very strange behaviour by the ARU.

    Cooper has been offered a contract that is incentive based from the ARU side of the table. This is ludicrious.

    Really, there are only two reasons for this sort of contract offer. Either the ARU wanted to give Cooper a reason to leave the game without actually firing him, or they want to start make incentive contracts a regular occurrence for Wallabies players.

    The first reason is chicken, low and I hope for our game as a whole that isn’t the reason they negotiated that way. If the ARU doesn’t want to retain Cooper’s services they should fire him, tell the supporters of the game why and let everyone move on. It doesn’t seem logical.

    I don’t see why the ARU needs to rub Cooper from the game. So I hope this tactic isn’t in play.

    Cooper did some silly things, but they aren’t really more than that. He was punished fairly strongly for them as well so it should now be for the ARU to resume normal business as a management team, not some sort of mortally wounded partner.

    Looking at the second reason provides more room to label the tactic as something other than low and cowardly, but doesn’t paint a pretty picture either.

    Cooper has admittedly come off a long term injury that may affect his worth to the game over the long term. For that reasons a slightly revised contract would be understandable. But to break tradition with almost every other contract offered is a slight on the player.

    I believe incentive payments are the way forward for the ARU to manage money well in the future. This change needs to be done with clear communication it is the way forward and with structures in place to enable the Super Rugby teams to pay players a bit more of a base salary.

    Put it this way: if Cooper deserves to be only on incentive payments because of his injury then Drew Mitchell, Wycliffe Palu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Stephen Moore, Will Genia, Berrick Barnes and others all have injury problems that would put them in the same boat as Cooper. They should be on similar contracts.

    If Barnes, Palu or Polota-Nau earn $1 of guaranteed money in their payments then the ARU has botched this completely.

    If the reported contract offer is accurate we are left with the ARU punishing Cooper further than they decided to in their hearing and trying to flush him out of the game. And the alternative is a strange coincidence that incentive-based contracts are the way forward and that the first botched attempt at doing it with a player in his prime was Quade Cooper.

    So: is the ARU the spurned girlfriend, or the bumbling accountant?

    Elisha Pearce
    Elisha Pearce

    Long-time Roarer Elisha Pearce joined us as a rugby union expert in 2015. He also works for Fairfax Media and has confused more Roarers with his name than anyone in the history of the site.

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    The Crowd Says (115)

    • Roar Guru

      November 20th 2012 @ 11:58am
      Argyle said | November 20th 2012 @ 11:58am | ! Report

      I tend to agree with you. Cooper is worth more to the ARU than incentive payments; and if it is true as you say that this offering from the ARU is a further punishment for Quade’s recent outburst then its underhanded and cowardly. However the crux of this matter is Cooper. He has put himself in this position and only he can get himself out of it. Now its a fork in the road moment and he needs to choose wisely as this next decision will be life altering and the manner in which he conducts himself will be his legacy for many years to come.

      Quade Cooper is the Dirk Diggler of Australian Rugby. He is really only good at one thing! And it ain’t speaking. As Dirk’s music career failed to launch I think Quade would not excel in European or Japanese Rugby. Whilst coin might be OK – who cares for him? Who knows him? Cooper is a big fish in small pond Brisbane and he adores the attention. Furthermore he is revered by the Queensland public when he takes to Suncorp Stadium in that Red jumper. He gets paid $400,000 alone to do that. This should be his launching paid to re-invent himself as a Wallaby player. Circle the wagons Quade don’t burn them!

      Now the lesson in this for Cooper is life ain’t fair and the ARU don’t owe you a cent. Its the free market and that’s what on offer. Just accept that and get on with it. Prove them wrong. Back up your chat – you actually have the ability. However the true test of a person is to watch what they do, don’t listen to what they say – often they are poles apart. If Quade stays his equity in Queensland will go up and put him in a space where he can get back into the international game. If he walks then he loses with Queensland fans and Australian fans. He will be just a flash in the pan – nothing.

      Its a character defining period for Quade.

      • November 20th 2012 @ 2:11pm
        Spencer said | November 20th 2012 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

        Well said Uncle!

        Queenslanders take care of their own, and if QC sacrifices and stays with the Reds he will be in a rare space.

        You always have a knack of getting to the heart of the issue. Have a Shiraz on me.

        • Roar Guru

          November 20th 2012 @ 2:56pm
          Argyle said | November 20th 2012 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

          Mate I will but I still feel like the carpet of Cafe Neon circa 1993 after a session and a half over the weekend. God its good to beat England! However rest assured I will be having a few tomorrow at Coldplay!


          • November 20th 2012 @ 11:29pm
            Armchair Sportsfan said | November 20th 2012 @ 11:29pm | ! Report

            Cafe Neon reference…GOLD.

            • November 20th 2012 @ 11:35pm
              Swiftly said | November 20th 2012 @ 11:35pm | ! Report

              Double gold

      • Columnist

        November 20th 2012 @ 2:15pm
        Elisha Pearce said | November 20th 2012 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

        I hope that Cooper circles the wagons too mate. Hope he buckles down and plays people off the park next year for the Reds, even if he doesn’t sign an ARU contract. I wouldn’t be that upset. I still watch all the Reds games.
        As for single trick. You are kinda right if we admit that ‘attack’ in all the different ways he does is a single trick.
        However, in the games he played upon return to rugby last year his defence was improved on the year before. It would be great if that wasn’t a single year uptick.

        • November 20th 2012 @ 4:19pm
          sittingbison said | November 20th 2012 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

          Elisha, he cannot play for the Reds without signing the ARU contract. He must be available for Wallaby selection.

          • November 20th 2012 @ 10:58pm
            barbz said | November 20th 2012 @ 10:58pm | ! Report

            Could Quade play in Japan this off-season and then play for the Reds as their Marquee signing? (Have they used it?) Wouldn’t this be a great ‘up yours from the QRU to the ARU?

      • November 20th 2012 @ 11:50pm
        Morgan said | November 20th 2012 @ 11:50pm | ! Report

        Brilliant comment, nothing more to say, you have captured the very essence of the situation and the moment for Quade. I too really hope he stays and works his way back into contention. Sooner or later Deans will be gone and Ewen will be coaching the Wallabies. So if Quade plays it smart and long, he can make it back. He needs to pull his head in, close his twitter account and play lots of awesome solid rugby, but as you say, he can do it. What a story Quade’s career will then be.

    • November 20th 2012 @ 1:08pm
      ncart said | November 20th 2012 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

      He has been fined for making the comments so that should be the end of it. Contract offers should look at what he can bring to the game, and while I think there have been some silly decisions made at times, he brings a lot to the game through his skills and certainly has been a big part of the Reds improvements over the last few years and as a result their supporter growth.

      I hope that wise heads can prevail and they can get him back, this might all be a bit of negotiating in public to achieve a result. Let him recover properly from injury and utilise his skills for the good of the game – if he wants to box why not let him – you are not likely to break a leg boxing, more likely to get really sore but very fit from the preparation.

      • Columnist

        November 20th 2012 @ 2:20pm
        Elisha Pearce said | November 20th 2012 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

        I am with you there ncart. A contract is about what he’s worth to the game. I’d have to believe that Cooper, even if he doesn’t win every single game for the Wallabies next year is worth as much as people like Palu or Polota-Nau who are injured as often as they’re available.

        • November 20th 2012 @ 5:37pm
          Handles said | November 20th 2012 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

          Trouble is that unless he makes himself available for the Wallabies, he can’t play for the Reds. If he makes himself available for the Wallabies, he will have to give up his other moeny-making requests, boxing and Japan. They are going to screw him.

          • November 20th 2012 @ 5:50pm
            Red Kev said | November 20th 2012 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

            I still can’t understand why the ARU wouldn’t let him box – they aren’t out of pocket and someone punches him in the face – win win.

    • November 20th 2012 @ 1:17pm
      garth said | November 20th 2012 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

      Iwould say more the spurned girlfriend. The ARU, and I include Deans in that, have bent over backwards to accomodate Cooper. They have helped him out of serious crimianal charges in the past, and earlier this year offered him a lucrative “top-up” contract to go with the one he recieved from the QRU. He and his agent dithered over signing, issued vague (and not so vague) threats about departing for League, European/Japanese rugby or (big laugh here) Boxing, and then went on a multi-media rant about poor little me, the big, bad ARU and their coach don’t get/like me, toxic-enviroment-in-team so I won’t play for them rant.
      The ARU has obviously had enough of his misbehavior, tantrums and insults. Combined with his erratic talent & skill set, this new contract is the result.
      If Quade Cooper doesn’t like it, tough. He can go cry to his agent, who is at least as guilty as Cooper in this saga. And the Queensland Rugby Union (& their fan base) should a: get over it, b: lay the blame with Cooper & Nasser and c: refuse to negotiate with anyone who has Khoder Nasser as an agent.

      • November 20th 2012 @ 1:44pm
        kingplaymaker said | November 20th 2012 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

        All too true though try telling that to some here!

        Your point on the other thread that the tweets may have been a miscalculated tactic by Nasser to force the ARU to increase Cooper’s original contract is very perceptive, and quite possibly true as well.

      • November 20th 2012 @ 1:49pm
        Red Kev said | November 20th 2012 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

        Cooper and his agent did not dither, they raised specific issues regarding the direction of the wallabies, the current coaching structure and team environment (focussing on ignoring any input from the playmaker into the gameplan), and injury management and then refused to sign away his life for three years until he heard what the ARU was going to do about it.
        They did nothing.
        Then Deans trotted out his pathetic “Cooper is not ready” for Bledisloe 1 before handing him the 10 jersey a week later in the hardest rugby match any team can face (the ABs at Eden Park).
        I don’t see any bending over backwards there. I see stubborn old men intimidated by someone who isn’t afraid to back himself.

        • November 20th 2012 @ 1:53pm
          kingplaymaker said | November 20th 2012 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

          ‘Cooper and his agent did not dither, they raised specific issues regarding the direction of the wallabies, the current coaching structure and team environment (focussing on ignoring any input from the playmaker into the gameplan), and injury management and then refused to sign away his life for three years until he heard what the ARU was going to do about it.’

          Really? Did you listen in to Khoder Nasser questioning the direction of the Wallabies and its injury management with John O’Neill and Michael Hawker?

          • November 20th 2012 @ 2:20pm
            Red Kev said | November 20th 2012 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

            No more than you listened to Nasser advising Cooper to do this and that as you have posted about 2 dozen times in the last 24 hours. I choose to believe that these issues were raised during negotiations because they were reported on in the press BEFORE the ‘toxic’ comment and the code of conduct punishment.
            You just like to conduct conspiracy theories that Nasser is some sort of puppet master.

        • November 21st 2012 @ 2:50pm
          garth said | November 21st 2012 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

          Nasser has a preference for short one year or less contracts. SBW is a prime example of this & one reason I hope he never plays for the AB’s again, he would just be taking up someone else’s spot. And I see a group of men who are fed up to the back teeth with the spoiled brat antics of an overpaid, erratic show-pony & his Don King wannabe agent.

      • November 20th 2012 @ 8:30pm
        Justin2 said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:30pm | ! Report

        It can easily be argued that the ARU are merely reaping what they sewed.

        Look at Beale and JoC, the three of them have got away with murder and I still to this day believe JoC has shown more disrespect to the jersey than anyone with his little “too hung over, shagging some mole” effort of missing the World Cup announcement.

        Young blokes, earning a fortune, traveling the world with little guidance. Geez I was just a mug doing the same thing!!!

    • November 20th 2012 @ 1:30pm
      nickoldschool said | November 20th 2012 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

      Question: have we ever had 14 articles (union) in the same day?!! Gotta be a record no?

      Re- article; when it comes to incentive payment from the ARU, I believe all players should have the same contract. Big names are able to make more money through sponsorship, their clubs etc but wearing the wallabies jersey should not be up to negotiation. Whether you are a prop, lock or fancy n10, you should get the same amount of money from your federation. For me, that’s rugby, team spirit and mateship. Plus it would Bring some transparency. That sends the wrong message to players and encourage some to promote their brands etc. not good.

      • Columnist

        November 20th 2012 @ 2:03pm
        Elisha Pearce said | November 20th 2012 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

        Do you think this is a well planned way to introduce incentivised payments Nickoldschool?
        As I said, I agree with the notion of that contract structure too. I may tier them somewhat, but ultimately the players should get the bulk of their pay from Super Rugby I think.
        However this is a really, really weird way to try and do that. I doubt the players union will be happy with the way this contract was played by the ARU. They probably won’t defend Cooper in public though.

        • November 20th 2012 @ 2:20pm
          nickoldschool said | November 20th 2012 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

          Agree that the bulk of their pay should be from SR, sponsors etc. The involvement that federations have in players contracts in the SH is very foreign to me and I still think they are far too involved. It has it’s good sides like player retention etc but the fact that some players can get deals and others not is wrong IMO.

    • November 20th 2012 @ 1:32pm
      onside said | November 20th 2012 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

      On the undercard: Quade Cooper vs ARU

      ARU win by TKO (in the umpteenth)

      Sponsors can now advertise on the soles of QC’s shoes

    • November 20th 2012 @ 1:37pm
      Spencer said | November 20th 2012 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

      The ARU haven’t made any public statements, and nor has QC or his management. All we have is Danny Weidler, a part time journalist/gossip columnist with a rumour.

      Elisha has articulated a clear logical analysis. Copper broke a CoC rule, there was a hearing and QC was punished. Surely that is the end of that chapter. Which leaves us with the options as Elisha presented; if the ARU has offered an incentive only contract then it is either a further punitive measure, or a change in remuneration policy. If it is the former then they should be sued. If it is a change in remuneration policy, then they had better document it, gain agreement with RUPA, and show consistency, otherwise they will be sued.

      This is such a sad situation for Rugby in Australia. John Eales is now on the Board of the ARU, and is a self proclaimed LEADERSHIP consultant. Come on John…get this right!

      QC owns such a large part of the younger rugby support base, and if QC leaves, then the ARU is shooting themselves in the foot.

      I am a supporter of the Reds and Wallabies, and have been watching both since 1978. I have followed QCs career since his first match at Lang Park against the Chiefs (that was a disaster for QC). I will be both saddened, and angry if the ARU – Michael Hawker, John Eales, David Nucifora & co. force him out of Rugby.

      I think QC should sign the ARU offer, play for the Reds (I am sure some extra 3rd party packages can be organized), and then continue to refuse to play for Australia until the Mumbler has been sent away, no doubt with a huge payout. JON has wasted so much money on RD, and there will be more to come.

      • November 20th 2012 @ 6:58pm
        PM said | November 20th 2012 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

        1. He cannot sign the ARU offer and refuse to play for the wallabies
        2. To do the above achieves nothing and puts him in the same predicament he finds himself now due to his similar actions to date, specifically indicating that he is not prepared to don the wallabies guernsey.
        3. If he is a man, believes in his ability and WANTS to be a wallaby he should back his ability and sign the contract.
        4. The above point is I believe the message the ARU board are sending, back yourself to redeem yourself, and prove your hungry and deserve to represent Australia.
        5. I acknowledge his ability but he has not achieved his full potential and has carried on like a dickhead and their is no “I” in team, a shame on both counts