Cheika hopes to see Cooper back in national team

by Staff Writer

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says he hopes Quade Cooper returns to the Australian international rugby fold in the future.

Cheika and many of the Wallabies squad arrived back in Australia on Wednesday morning after their run to their fourth World Cup final, and first in 12 years.

Flyhalf Cooper fronted up to Toulon training on Tuesday night Australian time, confirming his move to the French club.

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal indicated Cooper would be free to play if called up for national sevens duty as the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The 27-year-old had an injury-interrupted season with the Reds before playing a handful of Wallabies Tests in the Rugby Championship and World Cup.

Cooper is currently two Tests short of the 60-Test minimum that would allow him to be selected for the Wallabies despite being based overseas.

Cheika said he hoped Cooper would be back in the green and gold of sevens or fifteens soon.

“I think that we talked all last year about being creative around how we’re going to pick our players and also get them playing well,” he said.

“Quade hasn’t played a lot of rugby this year and he was excellent on the tour for us,” he said.

“It was always a hard decision on selections for me.

“There is some talk of him being involved in our sevens campaigns as well once that’s settled down.

“That would be outstanding.

The Australian sevens team plays a qualifying tournament next weekend in Auckland, hoping to secure its spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

An ARU spokesman said Toulon's stance was a positive sign but any talks with Cooper had been on hold during the World Cup.

“It is a positive sign that Toulon have indicated they are prepared to release Quade for any potential involvement in the Olympic Games in 2016," he said.

"That said, our discussions with Quade have been on hold during Rugby World Cup and we will look to continue these in the coming weeks.”

Cooper will join Wallabies teammates Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau at the French club, as well as former Australian representative James O’Connor.

They’re not the only ones heading to Europe post- World Cup with Will Genia, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Sekope Kepu all taking up playing contracts in France.

Bernard Foley, Ben McCalman and Israel Folau will play for Japanese clubs during summer, with the season starting in the coming weeks, before returning for the new-look 2016 Super Rugby competition.

Cheika will be returning to London later this month to coach the Barbarians against Gloucester and Argentina.

Seven Australians are part of that Barbarians squad,with Wallabies captain Stephen Moore, Scott Fardy, Tevita Kuridrani, James Hanson, Joe Tomane, Toby Smith and Waratahs flanker Stephen Hoiles all selected.

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