Cooper to walk away from Wallabies

Mon, Nov 19, 2012, 00:00

Rugby:The Australian Rugby Union has not been able to shed any light on reports that Quade Cooper may have quit international rugby. Speculation has been rife today that the 24-year-old, who was fined and hit with a suspended ban three weeks ago for comments about the Wallabies, has called it a day after being offered an incentive-based contract.

The ARU remains in the dark at present, with a union spokesman saying: “The ARU has had no communication with Quade or his management regarding the speculation. Questions regarding Quade’s future are a matter best addressed by Quade’s management.”

Cooper’s Super Rugby contract with Queensland is reliant upon his agreement with the ARU and if he is to walk away from the Wallabies he is expected to move abroad or switch codes to rugby league.

Channel Nine news said this morning the New Zealand-born flyhalf had rejected a low incentive-based ARU contract, and could now switch to the lucrative French Top 14 competition or to Rugby League.

New Zealand World Cup-winning centre Sonny Bill Williams quit Union and signed for the Sydney Roosters in Australia's National Rugby League (NRL) last week and said earlier this year he would only switch codes if Cooper followed suit.

"I reckon (Cooper) would be a huge success," Williams, also New Zealand's heavyweight boxing champion, said in September. "He has definitely got the skill-set to play the 13-man game. The biggest difference is in rugby you are playing on the advantage line, whereas in league the defence is 10 metre back. Imagine what he could do with that extra space."

Cooper, currently sidelined by a knee injury, has not played for Australia since describing the team environment as "toxic" - a comment which led the ARU to fine him last month. Cooper apologised after the fine, the latest black mark on his troubled spell with the Wallabies.

On the pitch and on his game, Cooper is one of the best outhalves in world rugby but headlines have not all centred on his abundance of attacking-talent. Cooper was fined by the ARU in 2009 after breaking the window of a taxi, with a burglary charge against him dropped the following year after a justice mediation process.

He led the Queensland Reds to a first Super Rugby title in 2011 after forming a devastating partnership with scrumhalf Will Genia and the two were also at the centre of the Wallabies success in the final Tri-Nations that same year.

Cooper accepted the role of public enemy number one when he returned to his homeland for the 2011 World Cup but a low-key tournament ended with knee reconstruction surgery after injury in the third-placed playoff win over Wales.

In his absence, Melbourne Rebels back Kurtley Beale has showcased his talents at the fulcrum of the Wallabies side with Berrick Barnes, Mike Harris and James O'Connor able alternatives that have shown coach Robbie Deans that Cooper is no longer irreplaceable.

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