Quade Cooper omitted from Wallabies training squad
Quade Cooper has been omitted from Australia’s 38-man training squad for the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup, raising questions about the future test prospects of the flashy but often unpredictable playmaker.
The move leaves Bernard Foley as the only specialist flyhalf in the extended squad announced by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika yesterday for a series of training camps starting north of Sydney next week. Kurtley Beale, a utility back who recently returned from England, was recalled to the Wallabies squad for the first time since the 2015 World Cup and is only other potential No. 10 in the initial group.
Cooper’s omission is his first based on form since former Wallaby coach Robbie Deans left him out of the 2013 British and Irish Lions series. Cheika indicated it was not necessarily the end of international rugby for 29-year-old Cooper, who was only used sparingly off the bench in the June test matches against Fiji, Scotland and Italy.
“We have had a talk about the reasons why and obviously a lot of that is around trying to get him back into the space where he can be that player that is going to get us around the park and do the stuff we want him to do,” Cheika said. “I don’t feel like that has been happening.”
Cheika did not select any players from the Brumbies, who are hosting a Super Rugby quarterfinal against the Hurricanes on Friday in Canberra. The squad includes 11 uncapped players, and seven others with four or fewer test caps. Cooper’s absence didn’t appear to be injury related. In a statement confirming the squad, the Australian Rugby Union said only three players - Kyle Goodwin, Lukhan Tui and James Slipper - were not considered for selection because of injuries.
Backrower Scott Higginbotham, who has played 34 tests for Australia, was one of the other notable omissions. The test squad will be chosen in the first week of August. “We have a lot of work to get done between now and Aug. 9 when we play New Zealand in Sydney,” Cheika said. “That work started in June, we tried to maintain some of that throughout the last rounds of Super Rugby and now we start to take it up a level.”
Forwards: Jermaine Ainsley, Adam Coleman, Pek Cowan, Jack Dempsey, Kane Douglas, Sef Fa’agase, Tetera Faulkner, Ned Hanigan, Richard Hardwick, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu, Adam Korczyk, Tolu Latu, Sean McMahon, Stephen Moore (captain), Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Lopeti Timani, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese.
Backs: Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Campbell Magnay, Billy Meakes, Eto Nabuli, Sefa Naivalu, Izaia Perese, Nick Phipps, Curtis Rona. —AP
PRETORIA: In this Oct. 1, 2016 file photo, South Africa’s Lionel Mapoe, left, is tackled by Australia’s Quade Cooper, top right, and teammate Bernard Foley, during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Australia, at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, South Africa. Cooper has been omitted from Australia’s 38-man training squad.