Cooper's nerves eased by mate Sonny Bill

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

New Australian Sevens recruit Quade Cooper has found support from trans-Tasman rival Sonny Bill Williams as he embarks on an Olympic tilt.

The pair speak regularly and when Cooper reached out for some advice on his impending Sevens switch, his mind was put at ease.

“I asked him, ‘How’s it going? Is it hard?,” Cooper said.

“He just responded with a text saying, ‘You’ll be sweet. You’re made for this game’.

It’s a sentiment that’s been expressed by many in recent months, both from within and outside of the Sevens community, as the Olympics grow closer.

Cooper isn’t buying into all the talk but said he was eagerly anticipating the challenge of stepping into a new format.

“I’m a bit nervous, there are a lot of unknowns when you're thinking about playing a different game,” he said.

“The challenge of it, the excitement of doing something and opening up my mind to it is something I’m really looking forward to.”

Cooper will make his much-hyped Sevens debut at the Sydney Sevens and is likely to play in the final two rounds of the World Series in Paris and London before August’s Rio Olympics.

It was the lure of the Olympics that made him most eager to break into the Sevens ranks.

“I imagine every person who plays rugby would’ve watched the Olympics and thought of the possibility when it was added to the Olympics,” he said.

“Every Rugby player, every kid has had the dream of playing anything at the Olympics.

“Thinking about a gold medal being around your neck and standing on that podium is such an iconic thing for every sport.”

The 27-year-old said he was confident he wouldn’t miss too much football with French side Toulon and that he would be able to give both Sevens and Top 14 his full commitment.

“I’m not too sure what my Sevens program will be like until I’ve been there and spent a bit of time training to see how I can best manage,” he said.

“I know I’ll have to give everything I’ve got to be successful in both.”

Cooper has been no stranger to new experiences the past few months, having moved his whole life overseas to begin his stint with Toulon.

Starting at flyhalf for the past fortnight, with regular 10 Matt Giteau injured, Cooper scored his first try for Toulon against Wasps last week.

It hasn’t been the easiest transition for the 27-year-old but he is beginning to settle into life in the south of France.

“Being able to settle in at the start is quite difficult with the change of location, change of environment, the language barrier,” he said.

“So many factors that come into play. It throws you off a bit.”

“Those are the things I've learned to embrace and now I think it’s all part of the challenge.

Cooper has ambitious goals for his French assimilation outside of Rugby too.

“I’ve been having (French) lessons and I come away from that hour thinking that I’m fluent in French then someone will come along and say something I haven’t heard before and I get a bit flustered and freak out,” he said.

“By the end of this I’ll want to be able to speak fluently a second language, know my way around, have travelled around Europe.

“(I want to) come away not only a better footballer, but a better person with more experience in my life."