McKenzie backs Cooper to stay with Wallabies
October 29, 2012
Quade Cooper is working his way back to fitness, but will miss Australia's northern hemisphere tour © Getty Images
Ewen McKenzie, Quade Coopers' coach at Super Rugby side The Reds, has suggested that he will reject offers from overseas and rugby league to continue to play in Australia.
There is on-going speculation over his future in the game in Australia and his contract with the Australia Rugby Union (ARU) is due to expire on December 31. Cooper recently re-signed with the Reds for another three years, but has yet to complete a top-up agreement with the ARU. It is also understood that the ARU tabled an offer earlier in the year, but subsequently withdrew it. Copper will miss Australia's four-Test tour of the northern hemisphere in November and December when they take on France, England, Italy and Wales. However, with the Lions due to tour Australia in 2013 McKenzie is confident that Cooper will want to be in contention to face the tourists.
"He's very passionate. He's one of the most passionate rugby players I've come across. He loves the game, he loves playing. So while there's been a lot of talk in recent time, I've never, ever thought he wasn't passionate about the Reds or about Australian rugby," McKenzie told The Brisbane Times. "[He's] one of the most competitive guys I've met. He'll want to play 10 at the highest level he can and in front of the biggest crowds he possibly can. That's him. The thing that people miss is he likes the responsibility of making things happen. What we have to do is get his knee right so he can get out there and do it."
The mercurial fly-half is due to appear before an ARU disciplinary panel on a disrepute charge on Wednesday after he launched a tirade against the Wallabies set-up via Twitter and the Australian media. He claimed that that the environment surrounding the national side was "toxic" and made a suggestion he would no longer play even if selected due to his belief that the team was ''destroying him as a person and as a player''.
McKenzie is hopeful that once the disciplinary session is over that Cooper and the ARU can get back to working together for the benefit of the Wallabies.
"If you had your time again, you'd hope things would have happened differently," he said. "I think we need to get to the end of it. There's been a lot of talk and it's been in limbo a little bit, so we'll get some finality on it. I'm not condoning anything or whatever, but it needs to be sorted now. I think that's what we'll get. It's good it's coming to a head. It will be what it will be. I think everyone's going there with an open mind and everyone will get the chance to have their say and it will get sorted. If you wash it back, Quade put his hand up some time ago about wanting to play rugby in Australia with the Reds. And I don't think anything's changed there."
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