Mercury (Hobart)

Wallaby hero gets his prize

- RUSSELL GOULD

WALLABY hero Quade Cooper says being an Australian is about “more than a piece of paper” but was incredibly grateful his long battle for citizenshi­p was nearly over.

Two days after Cooper kicked the Wallabies to victory over South Africa a significan­t rule change to immigratio­n laws was announced to expedite the cases of “exceptiona­l people” seeking citizenshi­p. Cooper (pictured), who was born in New Zealand but has now played

71 tests for the Wallabies since 2008, has had four attempts at getting citizenshi­p blocked because he didn’t meet residency requiremen­ts.

Current rules dictate that an aspiring Australian citizen cannot be absent from Australia for more than 12 months in the four years prior to lodging their applicatio­n. Cooper, who returned to the Wallabies for the first time since 2017 to kick the winning penalty goal against the Springboks on the Gold Coast, has been out of Australia playing in Japan.

But on Tuesday morning, Immigratio­n Minister Alex Hawke announced changes for the “most talented prospectiv­e Australian­s”, opening the citizenshi­p door for Cooper.

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