Friend confident in Cooper

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australian Sevens coach Andy Friend says the time is right to bring Quade Cooper into the Sevens fold.

Cooper was on Friday officially named for his World Series debut in next week’s Las Vegas tournament, after being released by French club Toulon.

Friend said the performance of his side in Sydney had vindicated the choice to leave Cooper out but this would be his opportunity to show what he can do.

“It’s a great opportunity for him to show us what he’s got,” he said.

“There was a lot of talk about his mission from the Sydney one but I think the boys have proved that that’s the right decision. it’s his chance to show us what he can do in Vegas.”

On the narrower fields of Vegas, a tournament set to be played on fully artificial turf, Cooper will have less space to work with, which could prove a challenge for the elusive flyhalf.

Friend said that the smaller fields could be a double-edged sword for the side.

“For our defence it’s good because it means we want to press hard and push up and put pressure on opposition who haven’t got as much space to get around us,” he said.

“For our game too where we tend to like to play in the wider channels it might restrict us a little bit. We’re prepared for that and we should be okay.

The Aussies have been training on an artificial surface in Lane Cove to prepare for the Vegas tournament and the harder toll it takes on the body.

In a blow to the side forward Tom Cusack has been ruled out of the World Series for four months with a broken wrist but Friend said he would still be a chance for the Olympics

“I thought Tom’s performance in Sydney was excellent so it’s a real shame for him that that’s happened but that’s Rugby,” he said.

“He’s had the operation now and he’s got his sights firmly set on getting back as quickly as possible and Rio’s still a possibility for him.”

The Aussies will be without veteran James Stannard and in-form playmaker Lewis Holland for the Las Vegas leg of the World Series with Friend balancing players’ workloads ahead

“There’s certain players who only want to play one tournament at a time, other guys we want to see in multiple tournaments.

“Still really important for us to do well but still I am looking at selection opportunities for Rio.”