Australia boss defends Cooper's pay situation
Sydney - Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle on Friday defended Quade Cooper's contract situation but admitted it was not "perfect", as the dumped playmaker prepares to play club games on a Super Rugby salary this season.
Cooper has been training with a Brisbane club after being told by new Reds coach Brad Thorn he was not required this season, which starts later in February, but will still have his contract honoured.
The 29-year-old signed a three-year contract with the Reds in 2016 after a stint with European heavyweights Toulon.
"It's not a perfect situation, no doubt," said Castle, who took over from Bill Pulver as the organisation's new chief executive, at an announcement of a new sponsorship partnership in Sydney.
"The interesting thing about player contracting is it's not a perfect science and knowing whether to contract players for three years or four years or one year or two years."
Castle conceded that Cooper's deal, in hindsight, was not quite right when he was brought back from French club rugby.
"Sometimes you get it really right and sometimes, like the Quade situation, you get a situation where you go, 'Gee, if I had the benefit of hindsight we might have contracted for a shorter period of time,' but we are where we are," she said.
"For us, I know he wants to work hard to make sure he can play Super Rugby because he wants to prove his worth."
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says Cooper's future will ultimately be determined by his reaction to his new situation in the coming months.
Cheika said he has spoken with Cooper and was forewarned by Thorn about the significant move.
"You write your own script (as a coach)," Cheika told reporters at the media conference.
"They're the decisions you make and then you become accountable for those going forward.
"I think there's ways out, there's ways we can turn that negative into a positive. It's just about getting it done."
Cheika said how Cooper responded to his new situation would be key.
"It's not an easy thing for him to be dealing with," he said. "As a footballer that's not nice when your coach says 'we don't want you'."
Cheika also defended under-fire Reds fullback Karmichael Hunt, who is due to face court over drug possession charges in a fortnight.
Hunt's cocaine possession charge was dropped last week, but his rugby future hangs in the balance with the 31-year-old Australian dual rugby international facing a charge of possessing a prescription drug.
Hunt re-signed with the Queensland Reds late last year for another two years.
"I think he'd be pretty down, personally down and (he feels he) let himself down in that situation," Cheika said.
"He's not an evil person, that's for sure.
"He's a good bloke, made a mistake in the past but I think now talking with the Reds and see where we're at and work together with Karmichael going forward."