Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper is looking at Sunday’s Uruguay Rugby World Cup fixture as if it is his last match in the green and gold, rather than an audition for the No.10 jersey for major fixtures ahead.
The mercurial talent has the ideal opportunity to press his case for selection for the Wallabies’ Twickenham showdown with England – and the key clashes which follow – in the match against Uruguay in Birmingham.
But the 27-year-old, who endured a horror World Cup in New Zealand which ended with a serious knee injury four years ago, is hesitant to turn his attention to England, Wales or any knockout clash – he’s experienced enough to know that every day is important.
“To be honest, the way we look at it is that every day is a way to audition for the team,” he said.
“Every day you turn up to training, we’re putting ourselves in positions where we’re challenging each other for starting positions – every single player.
“Whether you get your opportunity in the game, you have to be ready to take that.
“At the same time, every day you have to be prepared when you turn up to training.
“If you don’t put your best foot forward and don’t do a good job at training, then how do you expect to get a start in a game?”
Cooper was sidelined for the Wallabies’ World Cup opening victory over Fiji on Wednesday, with Bernard Foley preferred at five-eighth to partner Will Genia.
That combination was successful, if slightly unpolished, in a performance which potentially opened the door for Cooper to put Uruguay to the sword and firm up his first-team chances going forward.
However, the Reds’ star insists he wasn’t upset at Michael Cheika’s team choices.
“We’re all here as a team to do the one job, which is to win the World Cup,” he said.
“The overall (goal) is to win the World Cup – not to play in games or be the guy who said ‘I started every game at the World Cup’.
“We’re here to win it and whether someone else gets the opportunity to start, we’ve got to support them and the coaches in their decisions to start guys and have faith in each other to get the job done.
“This week, I get an opportunity so I have to go out there and get the job done not only for myself but for my teammates and all of the supporters back home to make sure this team can keep winning.”
An ACL injury, suffered against Wales in the third-place playoff at the 2011 Cup, merely reminds Cooper of the fickle nature of professional sport – and why he should approach every day as if it is his last.
“The last World Cup I was in could have been my last so the next game could be the last I ever get to play – you never know what’s going to happen,” he said.
“There are injuries and I’ve been injured a few times.
“Every time I step on the field, I approach it like it is my last.
“I know a lot of footballers say that but, when you love something so much, every time you go out on the training paddock, you have to go out there like it’s the last time you’ll train.
“This time is going to be no different.”