Quade Cooper’s latest public outburst will make the playmaker’s working relationship with Wallabies coach Robbie Deans close to untenable, says former Australia coach John Connolly.
The injured Cooper spoke out on Sunday about a “toxic environment” in the Wallabies camp, saying there were issues that needed to be addressed and a lot of people were afraid to speak up.
Cooper’s employer, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), declined to comment on Monday about his extraordinarily frank utterances, which followed an earlier statement that he did not want to be shackled by conservative, safety-first tactics.
But Connolly said the ARU could not afford to ignore them and the five-eighth may have reached a point where it will be difficult to work with Deans, even though Cooper insisted he was “very respectful to Robbie”.
“It nearly becomes untenable I think, those types of comments within a team,” Connolly told AAP.
“Players will brush it off and say it doesn’t mean anything and whatever but it does.
“It’s not acceptable to have players going public bagging the coach.
“Whatever the broken relationship is, and there’s clearly something wrong, it becomes untenable at that point.”
Connolly saw similarities with the breakdown between Deans and another Wallabies playmaker, Matt Giteau, who departed for French rugby last year after his once-leading role dwindled to the point where he was omitted from the 2011 World Cup squad and announced it on Twitter.
Connolly said such falling-outs suggested Deans’s man management wasn’t all it could be and players had shown a lack of “respect” for their coach by venting frustrations in public.
However, Australia’s 2007 World Cup coach believed Australian rugby had more issues than those in the national squad and repeated his calls for a review into the game’s structure and administration.
Connolly said the ARU had to respond to Cooper’s comments.
“I don’t think they can let it rest, there’s no doubt,” he said.
“They can’t just act as though it didn’t happen.
“There’s a lot of issues that need to be addressed.
“It does affect the code … the ARU needs to review the situation because there’s little doubt that compared to the other codes we’re not as good as we were.”
Unavailable for the Wallabies’ remaining two Tests in the inaugural Rugby Championship with a knee injury, Cooper has agreed a three-year deal with the Queensland Reds but is yet to come to terms with the ARU.
His outburst has re-ignited discussion over his future within rugby union.
The New Zealand-born star has long been linked with a switch to rugby league and Reds chief executive Jim Carmichael urged the ARU to sort things out with Cooper.
“The Reds have kept their house tidy. These are in-house issues that have to be dealt between Quade and the Wallabies, not the Reds,” Carmichael told AAP.
“There’s a lot of issues there.
“They (the ARU) need to reconcile their issues with Quade and Quade has to reconcile his issues with them.”