Citizenship issues to blame for Sevens stall: Cooper

by AFP

New Zealand-born Wallaby playmaker Quade Cooper said Friday he had been dumped from the Australian sevens team not on form but simply because he didn't have Australian citizenship.

Cooper was on Thursday ruled out of competing with the Australian Sevens team in the Olympics in August, coach Andy Friend saying the team had not had enough time to work with the fly-half, who plays for French Top 14 side Toulon.

But speaking Friday, Auckland-born Cooper insinuated that it was more to do with a procedural matter than his sevens form.

"The situation is that it's difficult with my passport, having to be in Australia for 90 days before I can get my citizenship even though I've played 58 times for my country," said Cooper, who was part of Australia's squad in both the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups.

"That's the frustrating part for me, not being able to get the passport and citizenship stuff sorted in time."

Under Olympic Games rules, Cooper would have to have Australian citizenship to be eligible to compete for the Wallabies sevens team.

It was recently discovered that Cooper had been travelling on a New Zealand passport despite leaving the country of his birth in 2001 at the age of 13

Cooper said he would now turn his attention wholly on his club's bid to win the Top 14 title.Kurtley Beale at ASICS jersey launch in Sydney. Photo: Getty Images"The club has been very accommodating with the sevens and now knowing that sevens isn't in the future, without being able to secure the passport and citizenship, I owe the club to play well and enjoy my time here, just focus on RCT and playing the finals and the future of the club," the 28-year-old said.

Cooper has had a tough time adjusting to Toulon, outspoken club president Mourad Boudjellal notably comparing his performances to Jonny Wilkinson as going from "foie gras to pate".

But when asked whether he would like to stay on with Toulon, the Wallaby said: "I hope so. I came here right at the end of the season. It was very difficult to settle in as quick as I wanted to after the World Cup, with the sevens.

"I'm grateful to the club for being accommodating to allow me to pursue those goals. Now they're finished and I have to put my focus into repaying the club for the faith they've had in me so far.

"Going into the future, I don't have a crystal ball that I can predict what's going to happen in the future, but I would love to continue on and also play some good football and enjoy it."