Lions celebrate Cooper's absence
Tue, 11 Jun 2013 06:31
It is an own goal that has handed the Lions a trump card
The British and Irish Lions are delighted Quade Cooper has been left out by Australia, with defence coach Andy Farrell saying he would want the flyhalf in his line-up.
The maverick Reds playmaker was not among the six players added Monday to Australia's final squad ahead of the first Test against the Lions in Brisbane on June 22.
Farrell got a first-hand look at Cooper's skills for the Reds in the Lions' 22-12 win in Brisbane last weekend and said he was happy he has been left out of the Wallabies squad.
"I'm pleased, he's a bloody good player," Farrell told reporters. "If I was the coach I'd want him in my side, he's a good player.
"But having said that, I don't know the background, the ins and outs of why he wasn't selected but he's certainly a handful.
"He brings a lot to the party, so I'm pretty pleased."
Cooper orchestrated some flamboyant attacks by the Reds, who out-scored the Lions two tries to one, but he was also guilty of a risky pass on his own 22 that nearly gifted a try, and missed a routine penalty kick in their match on Saturday.
Farrell, whose son Owen is a flyhalf in the Lions touring party, said there were some good passers in the Wallaby ranks even without Cooper.
"I think they have got quite a few backs who can pass, with (Kurtley) Beale back in the squad and (James) O'Connor and (Adam) Ashley-Cooper," Farrell said.
"They've got a magnificent backline, but I think Quade adds something a little bit different."
Former England World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward went further and said the decision to leave Cooper out of the Wallabies squad "beggars belief", in a column for British tabloid the Daily Mail.
"It is an own goal that has handed the Lions a trump card and just emphasises again how modern coaching - aligned with this obsession with 'team ethic' - has sidelined the more maverick characters," Woodward wrote.
"The Lions did not want to face him (Cooper) and they have got their wish."
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