Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle admits Quade Cooper’s contract situation isn’t ‘perfect’, as the playmaker prepares to play in Premier Rugby on a Super Rugby salary in 2018.
Cooper has been training with first grade side Souths in Brisbane after being told by new Reds coach Brad Thorn that he wasn’t required in 2018, but he will still have his contract honoured.
Castle said it wasn’t an ideal situation, likening the contracting dilemma to fantasy football.
“It's not a perfect situation, no doubt,” she said, at the announcement of a new partnership between Rugby AU and Land Rover.
“The interesting thing about player contracting is it's not a perfect science.
“Imagine if you run a fantasy team yourself in your own lounge room and think about how hard that is to get it right at the time.
“What you're dealing with in reality is exactly the same situation, knowing whether the contract players for three years or four years or one year tor two years or young vs old.
"All of those things are what brings the jigsaw puzzle together.”
Castle conceded, with the addition of hindsight, Cooper’s deal was not quite right when he was brought back from France.
“Sometimes you get it really right and sometimes, like the Quade situation, you get a situation where you go, 'Gee, if I had the benefit of hindsight we might have contracted for a shorter period of time,' but we are where we are.
“For us, I know he wants to work hard to make sure he can play Super Rugby space because he wants to prove his worth.”Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has spoken with Cooper and was also forewarned by Thorn about the move, and said he respected the Queensland mentor’s freedom to make decisions.
“You write your own script (as a coach),” he said.
“They're the decisions you make and then you become accountable for those going forward.
“I think there's ways out, there's ways we can turn that negative into a positive. It's just about getting it done.”
Cheika said Cooper’s future would ultimately be determined by his reaction to the news in the coming months.
“It's not an easy thing - that would not be an easy thing for him to be dealing with,” he said.
“As a footballer that's not nice when your coach says, ‘We don't want you’.
“My challenge is to try to get him into a place where I can still have him as a selection option, where that's here or overseas — he qualifies with the 60 cap rule — so that’s another option."
Cheika also defended under-fire Reds fullback Karmichael Hunt, who is set to face court over drug possession charges in a fortnight.
Hunt's cocaine possession charge was dropped last week, but his rugby future is still in the balance, with the 31-year-old facing a charge of Xanax possession and also on contravening a police direction.
Cheika said Hunt let himself down but wasn't a bad person.
"I think he'd be pretty down, personally down and (he feels he) let himself down in that situation.
"He's not an evil person, that's for sure.
"He's a good bloke, made a mistake in the past but I think now talking with the Reds and see where we're at and work together with Karmichael going forward."