Cooper commitment impresses Sevens

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Quade Cooper was still polishing off his breakfast as he made his way through his first Sevens warm up.

Cooper arrived in Sydney at 6:30am on Wednesday morning and little over three hours later the Rio hopeful was on the training track.

His trademark elusiveness was on show in attack, while in defence he was taking instruction from the side’s veterans as drills went on.

Post-session, his new teammates were imitating Cooper’s goal kicking preparations and the 27-year-old was armed with a initiation into the shorter form of the game.

While little light was shed on whether he will suit up in the inaugural Sydney 7s, both player and new coach Andy Friend emphasised the importance of him physically being aroudn the team.

Cooper’s inclusion and aspirations of filling a spot in August’s Rio Olympics team while splitting his time between Toulon and the Sevens have been dissected plenty.

Friend said Cooper’s presence even for one session was critical for building the relationship

“The boys have all followed the media and listened to what’s going on,” he said.

“I’ll always be up front with the players so today it humanises Quade Cooper.

“Some of the boys know him, some of the boys don’t.

“He’s out here now, he’s running the same drills, so it’s important for them, it’s important for him too.”

Asked whether he believed it was worth coming to Sydney despite a short turnaround putting his playing status up in the air, Cooper was unequivocal.

“It’s never a waste of a trip being able to come here and meet the guys,” he said.

“The biggest thing with a team sport is being able to fit into the culture, learn and interact with your teammates and be part of that culture.

“I want to spend as much time as I can with them and then join on the trip and all the hard work that they’ve put in previously and try and do my part to contribute.”

Cooper reiterated his stance that he doesn’t have an expectation of walking straight into the team, a factor that motivated him to throw himself straight into a session.

“To get off the plane, get out there and do something rather than just sit on the sidelines and watch,” he said.

“The best way for me personally to learn is to be out there and doing it firsthand. I’m grateful i was able to train with the guys and looking forward to the next session.

“These guys have worked hard for a number of years to get where they are and I’ve got to try and learn basically everything in the next few months and for me it’s all about work ethic.

“I’ll bring work ethic, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn as much as I can.”

Friend won’t be giving him or any other potential player additions a walk-up start, either but said incumbents should see the competition for places as an opportunity not a threat.

“I fully respect what the players have done to get us to where we’ve got to,” he said.

“If there are other players that are better than what we’ve got I’m going to look at them.

“If someone’s going to be the same as what we’ve got, we’re going to stick with the boys we’ve got.”

“As I said to the boys, it’s not a threat, let’s see it as an opportunity.

“You’ve got the position so keep working on your skills and do the best you can do.”

If Cooper fails to be included in the Sydney 7s squad, Friend said his debut would likely come in March’s Las Vegas tournament.