‘Of course I want to’: Why Quade Cooper thinks Joe Schmidt will be right to ignore him for Test duty


Veteran Wallabies flyhalf Quade Cooper admits his Test days are likely behind him and backs Joe Schmidt to pick Aussie-based players for this year’s Test campaigns.

The Japan-based Cooper expects Kiwi Schmidt to overlook foreign-based players – at a time when there are rising calls for the All Blacks to review their strict eligibility laws. All Blacks great Aaron Smith this week became the latest to urge change to allow the Kiwis to benefit from overseas talent.

Cooper, 36, appeared on the KOKO podcast this week and said he was still available for Wallabies selection, but didn’t expect it.

“In terms of desire to continue to play … it’s, of course, if we’re playing the game, we want to play at the highest level,” Cooper said.

“But I also understand that there has to be a time at some point where they just put all their energy and their time, everything into these younger guys.

“I’m sure that that’s probably what Joe Schmidt wants to do, rather than grabbing players from over in Japan or over in Europe, because they desperately want to keep their guys in Australia.

“At the moment, the carrot that they have is guys’ opportunities playing for Australia.

“I get that part. I still feel like in the sense of ability and so forth that I can play. It was only what, eight months ago that I played my last game. I didn’t feel out of place by no means.”

Cooper was asked to run the rule over the group of young playmakers but he diplomatically side stepped the question.

“It’s really difficult for me. I’ve played with all three of the guys who are most likely to play. You’ve got [Ben Donaldson, Carter Gordon and Noah Lolesio].

“All three of them, in my opinion, are great in their own ways and they all offer different things.

“It depends what team you’re going with, what pack you’re going to go with. Because the pack is the most important thing.

“Once you’ve got that pack, then you can decide how you’re going to play the game.”

Cooper was left out of the World Cup squad by Eddie Jones and the now departed coach expressed disappointment that the former Queensland Reds No.10 never returned his calls. Cooper said he felt disrespected.

“I had a feeling. Eddie told me before we played the All Blacks that I was going and that Darwin was going to be a crucial camp for me to make sure that I really sharpen up my game, because there was a few areas that he felt that I wasn’t doing at the level that I should have been doing,” Cooper said.

“So when I was left out, I wasn’t caught by surprise. I guess the thing that really kind of annoyed me more so than anything was just how it all went down. I guess the lack of respect and communication around how we sort of got told and so forth.

“But of course, like, everybody wants to go to the World Cup. But at the end of the day, for me, rugby is not the be-all and end-all. So I knew if I didn’t go, I still had a team to go back to.”

As Schmidt looks set to select a home-based Wallabies squad, over the ditch there are increasing calls for the All Blacks to loosen their eligibility laws.

Smith is the latest to advocate change in the criteria, with key members of the World Cup campaign having left for overseas since the final last year.

Scott Robertson has asked NZR to keep an open mind – although they so far are resisting change.

Ardie Savea is also backing a re-think while NZR have been exploring ways to bring Richie Mo’unga home early from his three-year deal in Japan.

Smith, who retired from Test rugby after the World Cup final and 125 Tests said NZ should look to Australia’s Giteau Law as a template.

The Wallabies can choose up to three players per series who have played 30 Tests or five seasons of Super Rugby.

Aaron Smith. (Photo by Michael Steele – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

“When I was playing you had to be in New Zealand to be picked for the All Blacks,” Smith told the Rugby Direct podcast.

“My only view would be there has to be a criteria for something, like if you’ve played eight years or 60 tests. There needs to be a criteria so not all our young talent takes off.

“Players could be eligible to go abroad and still give back to the country. That’s where I think it would be fair.

“By no means do I want all our 21-year-old, 10 Test All Blacks taking off to Japan and not helping that next group come through.

“There has to be a group above a certain amount of Tests and time in the team that gives you the opportunity to earn more money and still play for the All Blacks like South Africa have done – they’re two-time champs in a row. There has to be some gravy in that.

“I think by this next World Cup there will be changes to that criteria.

“We’ve got enough smart people at the NZRU to come up with a criteria that not all our top talent leaves.

“You’re talking about four or five players who are deserving of that top end money and will still be wearing the black jersey. I’d say in the next few years there will be something that will move.”

World champion South Africa does not place the same limitations on the Springboks coach as do Australia and New Zealand.

“The microscope only really comes on in those World Cup years. The Bledisloe (Cup) is key every year and building our teams but you look at other nations – they build and peak at World Cups. If South Africa hasn’t shown that, then everyone is blind. They don’t do it pretty but they’ve done it. And they’ve done it twice now.

“You’ve got to applaud them on that. Talking to Pieter-Steph du Toit, my team-mate in Japan, hearing certain things about how Rassie [Erasmus] does things… It’s all calculated.

“They’re not worried about the next four years – they’re worried about how the next World Cup is going to look.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.