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Sun Apr 20 02:43:09 SAST 2014

Wallabies are destroying me, says Cooper

Sapa-AFP | 28 September, 2012 10:020 Comments
Australia v Argentina: The Rugby Championship
Quade Cooper of the Australian Wallabies passes during the Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and Argentina at Skilled Park on September 15, 2012 on the Gold Coast, Australia
Image by: Chris Hyde / Getty Images

Disgruntled fly-half Quade Cooper has again lashed out against the Wallabies’ set-up, saying the environment within the Australian team was “destroying” him as a player.

The Queensland Reds playmaker, currently sidelined with a knee injury, reiterated his grievances on a television rugby programme less than a week after first making his feelings known via social media.

  Cooper, 24, who last weekend described the environment in the Australian team as “toxic”, went further on a Fox Sports programme saying the “environment is sort of destroying me as a person and as a player”.

  The Australian Rugby Union Friday said it was confused by Cooper’s latest comments and if he didn’t want to play for the Wallabies, then “that is his choice.”  The maverick playmaker said he didn’t want to be involved with the Wallabies under the current regime.

  “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 said in the televised interview late 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.

  Amid speculation of a possible switch of codes to Australia’s National Rugby League, Cooper said he intended to honour his three-year contract with the Reds, but said whether the deal was ratified by the ARU was out of his hands.

  “The reality is a decision on whether or not he stays in Australian Rugby has to this point rested with him since he received an ARU offer in early July,” ARU chief John O’Neill said on Friday.

  Cooper said his frustrations boiled over 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 23-19 win over the Pumas but Cooper said the result still felt like a defeat and left a sour taste.

  Cooper said he had been communicating with coach Deans, currently in South Africa with the Wallabies, via text messages since his comments last weekend, reiterating his spat wasn’t a personal one with the Wallaby coach.

  But he repeated that his talents were being wasted under Deans’s strategies.

  “As the five-eighth (fly-half) 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.

  O’Neill said the ARU was confused by Cooper’s latest outburst on television.

  “In light of Quade’s interview, we feel compelled to respond because he has moved beyond his comments of the weekend,” he said.

  “Much of what was said on The Rugby Club has left us utterly confused. Most disturbingly, he was firm about not playing for the Wallabies unless things change. If that is how he feels, then that is his choice.” 

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