In a blow to his highly-anticipated sevens debut, Quade Cooper is set for just two training sessions with his new Australian Thunderbolts teammates before next week’s inaugural Sydney 7s.
Cooper’s return to Australia has been delayed due to his injury-hit French club Toulon’s insistence he stay put this weekend and play their Top 14 clash.
The mercurial Wallabies five-eighth was scheduled to arrive in Sydney early this week to start learning the ropes in the seven-a-side game and training with Thunderbolts squad members.
But the Rio Olympics hopeful is now not expected back until next Wednesday morning, meaning he’ll only have sessions on Wednesday and Friday to prepare for his world sevens series debut at the February 6-7 tournament.
The situation puts new Thunderbolts coach Andy Friend in a difficult position as he will want to give Cooper as much time as possible on the field, while also ensuring Australia succeed in their home tournament.
As skilful and dangerous the 58-Test playmaker is as an attacking player, he has a huge task in improving his aerobic fitness required in the gut-busting, high-energy game as well as forging combinations.
Cooper has only been released by Toulon for three tournaments and the big-spending club initially agreed he could return early for the Sydney 7s before veteran No.10 Frederic Michalak suffered a back injury.
With Michalak in doubt for this weekend and Matt Giteau also sidelined, the European Cup and Top 14 champions want the former Queensland Red to play Stade Francais on Sunday.