Wallabies trio quash fight rumours
August 23, 2011
Cooper and O'Connor will be key for the Wallabies if they are to win their first World Cup since 1999 © Getty Images
Wallabies trio Quade Cooper, Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor have played down reports of an altercation in France last November.
The three players were alleged to have come to blows four days before their record win over France in Paris. However - in a week where O'Connor has been suspended for missing the official unveiling of the World Cup squad - Cooper has quashed rumours of any unrest in the camp.
"We're here to squash the rumours that there was an incident between us and James O'Connor during the tour but as you can see we're all best of mates again," Cooper said. "There's always going to be disagreements and stuff like that but in terms of anything sinister there's nothing going on.
"It's boys being boys and that's what we're here for and that's to squash it and get it over with and get on with it. We've got a massive game against the All Blacks this weekend and then it's the World Cup and that's where our focus is solely and we're not going to let anyone divert our attention from the job at hand."
Beale conceded there was an altercation between the trio but admits any unrest was soon put to bed following their record breaking win over France. "We're good mates and you are always going to come eye to eye at one stage," fullback Beale said. "We have obviously got over it and we had a good win over France later on the weekend.
"There was nothing to it. There's some rumours out there but that's the way it is and we can't do anything about it. We've come here today just to tell everyone how it is and we've got a big game this weekend and that's all we want to focus on."
Despite the three playing down the incident, the timing of the revelations will not impress Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. He has since played down any suggestion of disunity. "There's a lot of suggestion that have been just fallacy ... where they've come from, I don't know," said Deans. "We didn't assess it. It was a typical Test week, they had a disagreement, it wasn't of significant nature.
"They had an argument, as people who are close do. Beyond that, there was nothing. Some of the suggestions are nonsense ... we keep alluding to this incident, but there was no incident as such.
"There's no police file, there's no file of an internal fine - there's nothing. I'll let you draw your own conclusions (about the timing), let's get on with the rugby."
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) was quick to absolve the trio. "ARU has ascertained there was a disagreement between the players during the week leading into the Test against France which the Wallabies won in record-breaking fashion," a statement read. "However, the players involved maintain it was not of a serious nature, there was no one else present and subsequent enquiries have failed to find any other first-hand witnesses.
"There has also been no corroboration that the players were fined internally, forfeited their match payments or that there was any police involvement."
The Wallabies face New Zealand on Saturday in a winner takes all clash for the Tri-Nations trophy. And Cooper is adamant that the squad will be focused solely on the task in hand. "Nothing is going to affect us because there's nothing to talk about," Cooper said. "We're going to go out there and do our best as we have done ever since the alleged incident."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
It was another bumper year of rugby action in 2014; join us as we take a look back at some of the season's top statistics
Salary caps, Saints, sinners and scrums - Monday Maul looks back at the key talking points from an eventful weekend
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14