Cooper out of Wallaby frame
Cooper out of Wallaby frameSHARE
Controversial Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper looks set to miss out on Wallaby selection for the three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions in June.
Cooper appears to be out of the Wallaby picture as he will not be among a 30-man Australian squad that will gather for a two-day administration camp in Sydney on Sunday.
The 24-year-old Cooper confirmed to AAP on Wednesday that he wasn't invited to the Sydney camp.
Although he upset coach Robbie Deans and teammates with claims of a toxic environment within the Wallaby camp last year, Cooper’s omission remains a surprise considering incumbent Wallaby flyhalf Kurtley Beale is taking time away from the game to deal with his alcohol issues.
James O’Connor is being tipped as the favourite to wear the Wallaby No.10 jersey, with uncapped Brumbies playmaker Christian Lealiifano believed to be next in line despite having played the majority of the Super Rugby season at inside centre.
Deans at the start of the year said he held no personal grudge against Cooper after the flyhalf slammed the Wallabies’ “boring” gameplan and said he would start the season with a clean slate.
Deans did, however, say that he would select players who teammates could rely upon under pressure.
Cooper has endured an inconsistent start to the year, but has gradually improved since the recent return of halfback partner Will Genia from injury.
Outgoing Reds Director of Rugby Ewen McKenzie believes Cooper has shown more maturity this season.
"People say he's been up and down. I think he's been getting better every week," McKenzie said on Wednesday.
"I think he's been more mature this year. There's no doubt the partnership he's got with Will is a great partnership and you get confidence out of that."
McKenzie added that the decision to play Cooper at fullback on defence is due to his counter-attacking ability rather than any perceived defensive issues.
Cooper isn't the only regular Wallaby to miss the last of three planning camps held during the Super Rugby season; Melbourne Rebels scrumhalf Nick Phipps is believed to have been surpassed by Brumbies No.9 Nic White as Genia's understudy.
Cooper and company will have eight weeks to force their way into the fray as Deans will name his initial 25-man squad on June 2 before five players will be added to the squad following the next weekend's round of Super Rugby matches.