No place for Cooper in Wallabies training squad

Outhalf not included in 30-man panel as Australia start preparations for Lions tour

Quade Cooper of the Queensland Reds in action against the Highlanders in Dunedin last month. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Quade Cooper of the Queensland Reds in action against the Highlanders in Dunedin last month. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Thu, Apr 11, 2013, 10:03

Australia outhalf Quade Cooper has no problem with coach Robbie Deans and his omission from a Wallabies planning camp for the British and Irish Lions series was "no big issue".

Cooper, who fell out in spectacular fashion with Deans last year, told local media he had been left out of the 30-strong group being brought together in Sydney this weekend.

The 25-year-old Queensland Reds back played just three tests last year after returning from the serious knee injury he sustained at the 2011 World Cup in his native New Zealand.

Another knee injury ruled him out of the European tour at the back end of last season but he has since shown glimpses of the sort of form that once made him Australia's first choice flyhalf in his return to Super Rugby.

"It's no big issue really because we have a big season ahead of us," said this morning.

"The major issue is turning up in the Waikato and having a good game. The team is excited about that and that's what's more important at this time.

"People are going to look at players differently. It's not the first or the last time you're going to miss out on a side."

Cooper's contract negotiations with the Australian Rugby Union last November exploded into an acrimonious row with the player slamming Deans's tactics and what he said was a "toxic" atmosphere in the Wallabies camp.

Deans has since repeatedly said he would still consider Cooper for selection and the player said their relationship was now normal.

"It's like just any other player-coach relationship," Cooper added.

"I've got to do what I can as a player and he has to do what he thinks best as the coach.

"I've got full respect and trust in what he's doing for the team and I'll continue to do what I can for the team I'm part of now which is the Reds."

To say Deans has had a tricky year leading up to the series would be something of an understatement.

The New Zealander has faced a constant barrage of fire from his many critics, including former Wallabies, previous coaches and even, in the case of Cooper, his own players.

After making do with an injury-ravaged squad in 2012, he has lost one of his best players, flanker David Pocock, to injury for the season and seen another, Kurtley Beale, stood down indefinitely for fighting with his Melbourne Rebels team mates.