Like a marriage that went awry, then reconciled through counselling, Quade Cooper’s signature on a new AUD$800,000 deal to keep him in rugby union for the next two years proved that after some huffing, finger pointing, puffing, and anger-inspired, wiser heads prevailed.
With many, including myself, suggesting that Robbie Deans is an ailment that should be cast aside as soon as possible, Cooper’s signature will go some way to disproving the doubters that Deans still has the dressing room behind him in his quest to lead Australia to World Cup glory in 2015 following 2011’s failed attempt.
It’s also a boon for the Super 15. Cooper’s absence would have severely depleted the star power of the Queensland Reds, Australia’s best team, and the Australian conference as a whole, already believed in both South Africa and New Zealand to be the weakest of the three and given preferential treatment via the competition format (on both counts, Australia are guilty as charged. We just have to live with it until 2016).
Cooper, famously big chums with another budding boxer and world rugby superstar across two codes Sonny Bill-Williams (and they share the same agent in Khoder Nasser), also represents the type of exciting and skillful player Australian rugby needs to entice and keep youngsters in the game. He is a highly marketable asset, and the longer he stays in rugby union where he can display his outstanding ball skills (his tackling? Well, Fox Sports pundit Greg Martin says “tackling is all about heart”) the better it will be for the game in the southern hemisphere.
The ARU also had the carrot of a British Lions series to dangle in front of Copper, and buy keeping him in the code for two more years, its highly likely he will sign on again to compete in the 2015 World Cup when he will arguably be an even better player. He’s got the ability, and considering what Australia have in terms of playing personnel, should always start at 10 with his scrumhalf equal Will Genia at 9.
I’m looking forward to some more Quade Cooper antics next year, but hopefully on the field and not in the boardroom. Like the Kevin Pietersen-England cricket saga, it’s a very bad idea to isolate your best player when they are willing to come back to the pack.