Controversial Cooper quits Wallabies to hand Lions massive boost ahead of 2013 tour
13:01 GMT, 19 November 2012
Enigmatic Australia fly half Quade Cooper will not feature against the British and Irish Lions next year after he rejected a contract offer by the ARU to considering pursuing a career overseas or switch to Rugby League.
Cooper – considered to be one of the finest talent in world rugby – had signed a three-year deal with his Super Rugby club Queensland Reds in June but that deal, reportedly worth around A$400,000 (261,000) a year, is contingent upon a contract with the ARU with whom the 24-year-old has endured a fractious relationship.
Channel Nine news said on Monday the New Zealand-born fly half had rejected a low incentive-based ARU contract, and could now switch to the lucrative French Top 14 competition or to Rugby League.
New Zealand World Cup-winning centre Sonny Bill Williams quit Union and signed for the Sydney Roosters in Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) last week and said earlier this year he would only switch codes if Cooper followed suit.
'I reckon (Cooper) would be a huge success,' Williams, also New Zealand’s heavyweight boxing champion, said in September.
'He has definitely got the skill-set to play the 13-man game.
Last time out: The fly half last featured against Argentina in September
'The biggest difference is in rugby you are playing on the advantage line, whereas in league the defence is 10 metre back. Imagine what he could do with that extra space.'
Cooper, currently sidelined by a knee injury, has not played for Australia since describing the team environment as 'toxic' – a comment which led the ARU to fine him $40,000 (13,000) last month.
Cooper apologised after the fine, which included a further A$20,000 suspended for two years, the latest black mark on his troubled spell with the Wallabies.
On the pitch and on his game, Cooper is one of the best fly halves in world rugby but headlines have not all centred on his abundance of attacking-talent.
World class: Cooper is considered to be among rugby's elite
Cooper was fined A$10,000 (6,500) by the ARU in 2009 after breaking the window of a taxi, with a burglary charge against him dropped the following year after a justice mediation process.
He led the Queensland Reds to a first Super Rugby title in 2011 after forming a devastating partnership with scrumhalf Will Genia and the two were also at the centre of the Wallabies success in the final Tri-Nations that same year.
Cooper accepted the role of public enemy number one when he returned to his homeland for the 2011 World Cup but a low-key tournament for the fly half ended with knee reconstruction surgery after injury in the third-placed playoff win over Wales.
Life goes on: The Wallabies lift the Cook Cup after beating England at Twickenham without Cooper on Saturday
In his absence, Melbourne Rebels back Kurtley Beale has showcased his talents at the fulcrum of the Wallabies side with Berrick Barnes, Mike Harris and James O’Connor able alternatives that have shown coach Robbie Deans that Cooper is no longer irreplaceable.
While a switch to League remains the most likely destination for Cooper, the lucrative French league, where former Wallabies flyhalf Matt Giteau plies his trade, is another viable option.