Injured five-eighth Quade Cooper says he’s unlikely to play for the Wallabies again unless his concerns about the state of Australian rugby are addressed.
Cooper, who spoke of a “toxic environment” within the Wallabies during an interview on Sunday, has stood by his comments before making it clear how unhappy he is with the current setup the national team operates under.
The Queensland Reds player says he’d love to honour a three-year deal he agreed with the Super Rugby franchise earlier this year but whether the deal is ratified by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) is out of his hands.
And Cooper won’t be backing down from his belief the Wallabies need to be better looked after and prepared if they’re to perform at their best.
“I’m just trying here to be the best that I can be and that’s why I said I didn’t want to be involved in that kind of environment,” Cooper told Fox Sports’ The Rugby Club program on Thursday.
“For me to continue to improve as a player and as a person you want to be involved in the best possible environment and I feel that environment is sort of destroying me as a person and as a player.
“The environment there is one that I don’t feel comfortable in and if I don’t feel comfortable in it, if I don’t feel I can give 100 per cent for my country and for that yellow jersey, that’s a very big problem.”
Cooper says his frustrations came to a head in the build-up to Australia’s Rugby Championship Test against Argentina on the Gold Coast earlier this month.
The Wallabies scraped home to claim a come-from-behind win over the Pumas but Cooper said the result still felt like a defeat and left a bitter taste in his mouth.
Cooper said there’s “a number of things” that need to be addressed starting with the facilities available to the Wallabies to prepare for matches.
He said he’d been communicating with coach Robbie Deans via text messages since his comments over the weekend, reiterating his spat isn’t a personal one between himself and Deans.
But he expressed a further frustration that his talents were being wasted under Deans’s current strategies.
“As the five-eighth you’d like to think you’ve got input into the game plans and sometimes the input goes in one ear and out the other,” he said.
“That’s how, myself, I definitely feel. I’m an attacking player, so if you’re going to put an attacking player in and expect them to play a defensive game style then do you have input?”
Cooper’s outburst and his comment on Twitter that he’d like to play with friend and former All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams have re-ignited the argument that the 24-year-old could be a target for rugby league, with Williams expected to join the Sydney Roosters next year.
The ARU broke its silence on the issue earlier on Thursday with a brief statement which said they’d written to Cooper about his comments but didn’t disclose if he was facing disciplinary action.
Cooper said his first choice would still be to stay in rugby if he has that option.