'Confused' Cooper on his own
'Confused' Cooper on his ownSHARE
Talented Australian flyhalf Quade Cooper has left himself totally isolated with his latest public rant.
The disgruntled Wallaby playmaker, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury that requires surgery, again lashed out against the Wallabies' set-up and the Australian Rugby Union – suggesting the environment within the national team was "destroying" him as a player.
It elicited a strong response from ARU Chief Executive John O'Neill, who said he was "utterly confused" at much of the criticism levelled by Cooper at his organisation and says it is up to the flyhalf if he plays for the Wallabies again.
The 24-year-old Cooper reiterated his grievances on a television rugby programme less than a week after first making his feelings known via social media network Twitter.
O'Neill, in a strongly worded statement, said if Cooper didn't want to play for the Wallabies, then "that is his choice."
The maverick playmaker said he didn't want to be involved with the Wallabies under the current regime.
Amid speculation of a possible switch of codes to Australia's National Rugby League, Cooper said he intended to honour his three-year contract with the Reds, but said whether the deal was ratified by the ARU was out of his hands.
"The reality is a decision on whether or not he stays in Australian Rugby has to this point rested with him since he received an ARU offer in early July," the ARU boss, O'Neill, said on Friday of a player who has been involved in numerous off-the-field incidents – including facing charges of theft.
"In light of Quade's interview last [Thursday] night, we feel compelled to respond because he has moved beyond his comments of the weekend.
"Much of what was said on The Rugby Club has left us utterly confused.
"Quade wants more of a say in the game plan, he wants to play his style of game.
"He certainly made that clear. Yet he also said he could adapt if required.
"He talks of an unhappy environment without elaborating.
"He uses the word toxic – an extremely strong descriptor.
"However, when pressed on the issues he turned to facilities and the Wallabies not having a dedicated place to train.
"We've never had these concerns raised previously.
"The fact is the Wallabies are a national team. They train, stay and play in cities all around the country and overseas.
"The Australian cricket team and the Socceroos, same thing.
"Suggesting the Wallabies are under resourced has equally come out of the blue.
"Most disturbingly, he was firm about not playing for the Wallabies unless things change.
"If that is how he feels, then that is his choice.
"The reality is a decision on whether or not he stays in Australian Rugby has to this point rested with him since he received an ARU offer in early July.”