Timing ruins Cooper's Olympic dream

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by Beth Newman

Quade Cooper’s Sevens stint is officially over, with time proving his ultimate enemy in a failed Olympic bid.

The Australian Sevens team announced tonight that Cooper would not play in the final two legs of the World Series or the Olympics, after spending just two weeks with the squad.

Cooper’s initial agreement was to play three tournaments with the Sevens side, starting with February’s Sydney leg.

An injury crisis in Toulon scuppered those plans but the former Wallabies playmaker was included in teams for the Las Vegas and Vancouver World Series legs.

Overall, Cooper has managed roughly three weeks with the squad through the season and with just three months left until the Olympics.

Quade Cooper was a spectator at the Sydney 7s. Photo: Getty ImagesMen’s Sevens coach Andy Friend said Cooper just hadn’t had the chance to familiarise himself with the side’s game plans.

“There’s no doubt Quade is a quality player, but put simply, we just haven’t had the opportunity to work with him as much as we would have liked over the past five months,” he said in a statement.

“Each day I have a group of 20-plus players working on different structures and patterns of play and I don’t think we would have got the very best out of Quade had we just thrown him into a tournament with limited preparation – particularly for an event as momentous as the Olympics."

The news seems to have come as somewhat of a surprise to Cooper, who was still tweeting about his hopes of making the Paris squad earlier this week.

Friend said being upfront with Cooper about his Olympic chances was a way to be fair to all parties.

“As many players have found out throughout this season’s World Series, it is no easy task to transition from fifteens to the Sevens form of the game.

“Although we are still a few months out from the Games, I think it offers the fairest outcome for everyone by making the call now. Quade can channel his energies into Toulon while we can enter the next phase of our preparations for Rio knowing the direction we want to take.

The depth in his position has been obvious, with 23-year-old Lewis Holland stepping up in the playmaking spot, with veteran James Stannard also playing a consistent role for the side.

Friend said he had confidence in the current squad to perform.

“I have complete faith in the players we currently have in the Sevens program and their ability to perform on the big stage,” he said.

“We have two big tournaments coming up in the next couple of weeks in Paris and London and I’m confident we have given ourselves the best possible chance to perform in those events.”

The Men’s Sevens will be travelling to Paris on Friday, for the final two legs of the World Series.

The Rio Olympics tournament kicks off on August 5.

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