Sonny Bill urges league switch for Wallaby Cooper
All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams said on Sunday he was trying to convince mercurial Wallaby Quade Cooper to join him in the switch to Australian rugby league.
Williams announced that he would return to league, his old stomping ground, earlier this year after a season with Japanese rugby union side Panasonic Wild Knights, and is heavily rumoured to be joining the Bondi-based Sydney Roosters.
The 27-year-old, also New Zealand’s heavyweight boxing champion, said he was trying to lure Australia’s Cooper to join him in the code switch, with the divisive flyhalf under a cloud after last month’s thrashing by the Kiwis.
“If people are saying he is not wanted in rugby... if they think he is not good enough to be playing for Australia then I would love to lure him across to rugby league for a year,” Williams told Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
“I will try. I would definitely love to play alongside him. I think he would be a success — I have spoken to him about it.”
Cooper, 24, has been under heavy scrutiny since his inconsistent performance at last year’s World Cup which culminated in a serious knee injury that sidelined him for much of the 2012 Super Rugby season.
The polarising New Zealand-born flyhalf was relentlessly booed during the tournament by Kiwi fans who accused him of taking cheap shots at All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.
He was not selected for Australia’s first Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand last month, and had few opportunities despite running on in the decider, which the All Blacks snatched with a crushing 22-0 victory.
Williams said Cooper’s skill set was “definitely right up there at the top ... in terms of running, offloads, kicking” were he to switch to league.
“I don’t have to make a case for him, you just have to click on YouTube to see what he is capable of,” he said.
“He is such a great talent that he cops a lot of stick, especially in New Zealand. A lot of people have a go at him, but I think that’s because he is their biggest threat,” he said.
“It is more of a compliment than anything.”