Rugby Championship

Cooper: I never stopped enjoying rugby

2017-08-31 13:52
Quade Cooper (Getty)

Sydney - Quade Cooper has refuted suggestions by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika that he is not enjoying playing rugby anymore. 

Having been a regular pick for the Wallabies since making his debut in , Cooper was a surprise omission from Cheika's Rugby Championship squad. 

When explaining his decision to omit Cooper at the time, Cheika reasoned: "One of the big things for him is to look like he's enjoying his footy and getting out there and really being a competitor for that 10 jersey. 

"A lot of that is trying to get him back into a space where he can be that player that's going to get us around the park and do the stuff we want him to do." 

But Cooper was quick to deny that he had fallen out of love with rugby. 

"I mean, it's not unfair ... everyone is entitled to their opinion. So if that's how it looked to him, then I have to respect that. That's his view and his opinion," Cooper told the Sydney Morning Herald

"But I was definitely enjoying my football. There was times throughout the year where it was definitely frustrating, we weren't winning the games we should have won or weren't playing to our potential. That's rugby. 

"There were games where we exceeded our potential, like against the [Southern] Kings here in Brisbane." 

The 29-year-old endured a frustrating season with the Reds in Super Rugby as the Queensland-based side could only muster a measly four wins. 

"If you have respect for yourself, the team, the fans ... everyone ... if you put on a performance you aren't happy with, you're not going to be running around high-fiving and carrying on," Cooper said.

"I was definitely having fun. The thing that was a massive goal for me and boost to my confidence was playing in every game I was picked to play in and being able to play in every minute and be relatively injury free. 

"You cop knocks and bruises. But that was a massive boost to get through the season with no surgery, no MRIs that were any real worry. I was having a good time and happy to be back at the Reds." 

Meanwhile, Cooper says his confidence didn't take a knock and chose to see his non-inclusion in a positive light as he was able to enjoy a rare pre-season which has him feeling in better shape than he has felt in a number of years. 

"I know how rugby goes and how teams are selected. In terms of a shot to my confidence, not at all. I look to this as a way to train, get strong and healthy. When you have been playing for the national side for eight to 10 years, you never really get a pre-season. The only time I get a pre-season is when I've been injured. 

"To be fully fit and healthy, I feel like it's a great thing for me. If anything, it will be great for my confidence. Some of the stuff I've been doing in the gym, I haven't been that strong since I did my ACL. 

"I feel like I'm physically and mentally in a great place and ready to push the boundaries off the field in terms of my ability."

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