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Quade unclear on Wallabies future, gives telling insight into Rennie’s methods

Quade unclear on Wallabies future, gives telling insight into Rennie's methods

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Quade Cooper appears destined to return to Test rugby with the Wallabies this weekend, but says he doesn’t know if he’ll stay with the squad for The Rugby Championship in Queensland.

Cooper’s odds on gaining a 71st Wallabies cap appeared to shorten when he ws put up for a press conference alongside another returnee, Izack Rodda, from the team’s Perth base on Tuesday.

Cooper was brought into an extended squad ahead of Bledisloe I by coach Dave Rennie and has been confined to a coaching and mentoring role, gaining fulsome praise from the coach last week.

But with the Bledisloe series decided it appears that Cooper will get another crack, potentially from the bench, and maybe as a farewell.

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“He keeps everybody on their toes,” Cooper said when asked if he knew if he was playing. “When we’re training the teams are always quite mixed up. You have to look around to see where Hoops or Marika are and get some indication from that.

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for the ARU)

“The boys are all fighting for spots. There’s some fantastic players here who have put in a lot of work and a lot of effort to become better players, and they’ve put their hands up for selection.”

Cooper also said he was unsure what he future holds after Sunday, and he wouldn’t be upset if he fails to get selected.

“That hasn’t been a focus of mine at all, it’s not something that I have come in here thinking ‘I just have to play a Test,” said Cooper.

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“Coming in here has been about learning. Whether I go back to Japan after this game, whether it’s after the Rugby Championship, I’m not 100% sure, just yet, I’ll have a wealth of knowledge in terms of football, in terms of things I’ve been able to gain and learn about myself and being back inside this environment.

“The level of skill, the level of training that we’ve been able to train at, I haven’t had that for four years or so since I was last inside a Wallabies squad.

“It hasn’t been a focus of mine to come in and just play a game. If I can grow as a man, grow as a rugby player, take that back to Japan and pass that knowledge on to other people, that’s a great reward for myself.

“Anything else outside of that it’s just bonuses along the way in this journey. I haven’t had conversations around that, just been taking each week as it comes and enjoying my time in here.”

Cooper was full of praise for Rennie and what he has achieved with the Australian team’s culture in the short time he’s had the role.

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“One of the first things I noticed when I came into the squad is there’s a great emphasis on inclusion,” Cooper said.

“We’ve got guys who are Australian born, guys who are Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, born in New Zealand, guys who have come from different backgrounds.

“And there’s a real emphasis on everybody having their identity represented. When you look at Australia as a country, it’s such a multicultural landscape, and to be able to see that everybody is represented is a great thing.

“That’s something that I’ve really enjoyed.

“But also he has a growth mindset.”

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Cooper gave some insight into Rennie’s nature on the training ground around when players try skills.

“Seeing him encourage guys… it might be a skill error but the intention was there and he’ll just go and reinforce it – ‘the idea was great, loved what you did there but the skill let you down and I need to see you practicing that’.

“That, for me is something that when when you see a coach not coming over and burning you for making a mistake, but more so nurturing you to understand that the intent was right … I see what you’re trying to do there, but you need to get better at that skill.”

If Cooper does get on the park on Sunday he will face up against Beauden Barrett who replaces Richie Mo’unga at No.10 for the All Blacks.

“That’s the thing about the All Blacks – you have Richie Mo’Unga staying at home for the birth of one of his children then, and you have Beaudie come in,” Cooper said.

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“They’re two of the best best players in the world and how do you defend that?

“You don’t really put so much emphasis on one person and stop them, it’s more about slowing them down.

“The ABs as a whole have been been a phenomenal team over the past two games and we’re very much more so focused on trying to nail down our stuff. We’ve got a lot of young players, who have shown some some great things over the past few games and the series against the French.

“As long as those guys can continue to grow everybody in the squad, puts their hand up and tries to push each other we’ll be in a great spot.

“As young men, as a squad, it’s a journey. We just come come to Perth, a game got cancelled – there’s a learning curve there, to understand, we’ve got a little bit extra time.

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“It’s not one are , but as a group, as people, as men, we’re trying to slowly inch our way forward and we’ve been grateful to have had this extra week.”



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