Sydney - The body language of two key Wallabies suggests Quade Cooper is not
yet onside with his colleagues despite being fined A$40 000 and
threatened with a three-game ban for his caustic comments about the
team's "toxic" environment.
According to stuff.co.nz website, influential flank David Pocock and rival flyhalf Berrick
Barnes on Thursday appeared far from enthusiastic about the prospects of
Cooper returning to the national side once he recovers from a knee
injury - as the Australian Rugby Union adopts a cautious approach to
renewing the controversial playmaker's contract when it expires on
After being punished and placed on a virtual good behaviour bond by
the ARU for two code of conduct breaches on Wednesday Cooper issued a
public apology in relation to comments he made in September that were
critical of the team set-up and the defensive game plan enforced by
coach Robbie Deans.
The 24-year-old claimed via social media site Twitter and then in an
extensive interview on Fox Sports' "The Rugby Club" that the team
environment was "destroying me as a person and as a player" which led to
him questioning his commitment to the Australian jersey.
Cooper said he would refuse to be selected for the Wallabies two
remaining games in the Rugby Championship, a threat that did not sit
well with team-mates.
Shortly after Cooper aired his grievances, experienced wing Drew
Mitchell said he was most disappointed with the pivot "refusing the
Ultimately Cooper was unavailable due to injury and after a
five-hour tribunal hearing that imposed A$60 000 worth of fines
(A$20 000 suspended for two years) and a three-game ban (also suspended
for two years) he indicated a considerable change of heart by expressing
remorse a desire to return to the Wallabies fold.
He is ruled out of the end of year tour to Europe so would only be
able to resume an international career tarnished by last year's World
Cup when the British and Irish Lions tour Australia next June.
Pocock, the Wallabies initial captain this season until he was
injured, was relieved the issue had been resolved but stopped short of
welcoming Cooper back with open arms when asked if he would be happy to
play alongside the maverick No 10.
"Yeah .... If Quade gets back to the Wallabies and get picked by the
coaches he would have earned it. If you earn your place in the jersey,
the boys will play with you."
Barnes was also restrained, deflecting questions by pointing out he did not select the team.
Also asked if he would have a problem playing alongside Cooper,
Barnes bristled: "I'm not going to comment on any of the stuff with
"If he gets back into it he'll earn because he earns it and blokes will play with him because of that."
Former Wallabies fullback Matt Burke suspected Cooper would not play another test and could be lost to the code.
"I don't know whether he'll be back in the fold, I don't think he'll
be back in an Australian jersey," he told Bigpond Sport.
"Queensland are trying to smooth over the transition with the ARU, we'll have to wait and see."
Cooper has a three-year deal with the Reds and a staunch defender in Queensland Rugby Union chief executive Jim Carmichael.
"For Quade to accept the penalty he was handed and to offer to make a
public apology after an extremely difficult day, I'm hopeful is
evidence of how much he understands the gravity of his actions and also
shows his sincerity in wanting to move forward with his career with the
Reds and the Wallabies," Carmichael said.