Cooper turns his back on Wallabies
Thu, 27 Sep 2012 13:10
Money has nothing to do with it
Quade Cooper has effectively ended his Test career when he repeated his claims that the Wallaby environment is 'toxic'.
In an extraordinary turn of events the controversial flyhalf, who is currently injured, claimed he will not play for the Wallabies - even if selected.
This followed just hours after the Australian Rugby Union confirmed they had put him on notice over his public outbursts on the social network Twitter.
Cooper went on pay-TV in Australia on Thursday claiming the national team is "destroying" him, and that he would not play for Australia if he were picked in the team at this stage.
"I'm just striving 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 told Fox Sports' The Rugby Club.
"For me to continue to improve as a player and as a person you want to be in the best possible environment, and I feel that that environment is destroying me as a person and as a player, so that I can't do the best that I can do to represent my country and my family and my friends, to the best of my ability."
The 24-year-old, who has been ruled out of the remainder of Rugby Championship and require surgery to repair a small chip of articular cartilage in his right knee, sparked huge controversy with tweets and comments he made last week.
Offered the chance to clarify his position on Thursday in an interview with Fox Sports, with whom he has a contract, Cooper said he would not play for Australia or sign a new deal with the ARU unless improvements were made.
When asked if he would play for the Wallabies if he was picked in the side, Cooper said he would not.
"No, like I said, it's the environment there at the moment is one that I don't feel comfortable in and if I don't feel comfortable and if I don't feel that I can give 100 percent for my country and that yellow jersey, that's a very big problem," he said.
The flyhalf's comments follow criticisms he made on Twitter last week against national coach Robbie Deans and the culture in the Wallabies squad.
Cooper said the tipping point for him was the lead-in and aftermath of the Wallabies' fightback win over Argentina on the Gold Coast two weeks ago.
He had an error-ridden first half in that match but improved to show flashes of former flair in the final stanza.
"Everything leading into that game showed out on the field, not only the way that I played as an individual but as the team played, [it was] just a very unhappy environment," he said.
"We won the game, and it felt like we lost the game, and the way that it was spoken about from officials and stuff, it was basically a loss.
"You don't need that as a player in that environment. You want to walk off the field, whether you win by the smallest of margins, you want to have a happy dressing room, know that you've won the game, give confidence to your players and make sure you have the belief and confidence from your coaches and your peers to move onto next week."
Cooper said the stalled contract negotiations with the ARU had no influence on his decision to speak publicly.
"Money has nothing to do with it, and if money had anything to do with it, I definitely wouldn't be speaking out," he said.
The stalemate could prompt Cooper to walk away from Australian rugby altogether, despite the fact he signed a three-year contract with the Reds earlier this year.
"I'm happy [in Queensland] ... I'd love to stay there for the next three years, but [it's] a tripartite contract [between Cooper, the Reds and the ARU] and the ARU have to register it, and if there's no change in the current environment then I don't know what I'll have to do past there," Cooper said.
He also bemoaned the absence of an adequately equipped national training facility, and said the Wallabies lacked the "family" atmosphere he enjoyed at the Reds.
"Earlier this year we had a three-week camp where we didn't really have the best facilities for injury prevention, injury management, to get the best out of us as a playing group," Cooper said.
Cooper attacked the lack of a dedicated training facility for the Wallabies and reiterated his criticism of the defensive gameplans of coach Robbie Deans.
"If you are going to pick an attacking player, especially at 10, you sort of want to work on playing attacking rugby," he added.
Cooper denied speculation he was involved in a behind-the-scenes push to oust Deans from the head coaching role, paving the way for Reds coach Ewen McKenzie to take over.
The ARU sent Cooper a please explain regarding his Twitter comments but the Queensland Reds star is unlikely to back down from his gripes about the state of the game in Australia.
He said he had every intention of fulfilling his three-year contract with Queensland Reds and that a dispute over money wasn't behind his recent outbursts.
"I want to play for the Reds, but the next component is out of my hands," he said.
"If there's no change to the current environment, I don't what I'll have to do then ...
"What I mean by the environment being toxic is that you expect it to be like a family environment," he added. "You want to have a happy environment, more so like we do at the Reds."
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