Cooper one step closer to Rio eligibility

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Olympic hopeful Quade Cooper knew when he arrived in Australia he had a slim chance of featuring in the HSBC Sydney 7s but when he heads back to France he’ll be one step closer to Olympic eligibility.

Cooper trained with the Australian Sevens on Wednesday and took part in the captain’s run on Friday, despite being ruled out of the tournament on Thursday.

Sevens coach Andy Friend said Cooper was always aware that he would be up against it to make the Sydney team.

“He knew that it was going to be very difficult (to make the team),” he said.

“We watched him train on the Wednesday...and he did pull up firn from that but just looking at all the other factors we made that call.

“He was obviously upset because he’s a rugby player and wants the challenge but he respects the decision and I respected him for that.”

Friend said the possibility of giving Cooper limited minutes through the tournament, against some of the less formidable Sevens nations, was considered.

“We could have picked 12 or 11 players and used Quade very sparingly but that puts a lot of pressure on the other 11 players,” he said.

“Our intention in this tournament is to try and win it and we therefore want to pick what we felt was the squad with the best chance to do that.”

New Zealand-born Cooper did have another very important reason to travel to Australia, though, needing to get his Australian citizenship to ensure he would be eligible to play in the Olympics.

Australia welcomes a host of its regular starters back into the side for the Sydney World Series leg  and Friend said they were hoping to go one step further than the Cup quarter-finals

“We’d like to win our first two qualifiers and make the quarter-finals.

“We haven't won a quarter-final yet so hopefully we’ll be able to do that.”

Friend said he felt their home tournament presented the best opportunity for World Series  success.

“It’s a real opportunity to have a real go at them,” he said.

“Speight’s back in in his second tournament, Ed Jenkins back  and Con foley and Cam Clark

“Some  quality players coming back in so I think tomorrow should be a really good opportunity for us.”

The HSBC Sydney 7s kicks off at 11am on Saturday at Allianz Stadium.