Foley welcomes Cooper competition

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The pair played out a fierce battle for the Wallabies flyhalf spot last season and Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley says he’d welcome the return of Quade Cooper to Australia.

Cooper tweeted a farewell to Toulon overnight and has indicated his next destination would be Australia, though his final stop is yet to be confirmed.

If the 28-year-old signs a contract for the 2017 season and beyond, he would be immediately eligible for the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship campaign, starting in August.

Foley, who fought off the former Reds playmaker last season, said earlier this season that his battle with Cooper had made him a better player and on Wednesday he said a potential reunion would only be good for Australia.

“It's great for Australian rugby, isn't it?,” he said.

“To have a player of that calibre back.

“I think competition's always been great between the two of us or between all the 10s in Australia, it's great to have and for Australian rugby, it can only be a positive.

“It's exciting wherever he ends up, he ends up. The competition is good for Australian rugby.”

Quade Cooper last played for the Wallabies against Uruguay. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile it might not have changed Foley’s individual approach, a lack of flyhalves, with an injury to Matt Toomua and the late arrival of Christian Lealiifano into camp ahead of the England, meant the Wallabies were very short on pivots, with attack coach Stephen Larkham stepping in at points in training.

While the absence of Cooper didn’t necessarily change Foley’s motivation, the Waratahs 10 said it probably made him try and do more outside of his usual role.

"I don't think there was much change. In all the training last year we had that great competition and we had two 15s running against [each other],” he said.

“This year we probably lacked a bit of depth in that playmaker role, especially those first couple of games, we were quite limited but for me it didn't change how I approached the game or my training or anything like that.

“It probably pushed me to try and be across it more and try and be on top of a lot of different areas that I probably hadn't thought of in the past.