Deans to sideline Cooper for Lions series

April 10, 2013
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Wallabies coach Robbie Deans appears set to overlook Quade Cooper for the upcoming British and Irish Lions series with James O’Connor favoured to play five-eighth.

ABC Grandstand

Cooper still looks on the outer with Deans as the controversial playmaker will not be among a 30-man Wallabies squad to gather for a two-day administration camp in Sydney on Sunday.

Even with incumbent Kurtley Beale currently out of the picture due to his indefinite suspension over alcohol issues, Cooper will stay in Brisbane as other number 10 contenders meet with Deans and the rest of the extended squad.

While he upset Deans and team-mates with claims of a toxic Wallabies environment last season, the 38-Test five-eighth’s omission remains a surprise.

Former Test coach Eddie Jones last week rated Cooper’s electric attacking game and X-factor as the best number 10 option to beat the Lions, while backline great Tim Horan has praised his recent form.

Earlier this season, Deans said Cooper would begin the year with a clean slate but also underlined he would select players who team-mates could rely upon under pressure.

The 24-year-old endured a mixed start to 2013 but has bounced back into form with the Queensland Reds following the recent return of Wallabies half-back Will Genia from his knee reconstruction.

Cooper confirmed on Wednesday he was not invited to the Sydney camp but was unfazed by the omission and focused on continuing his positive progress with the Reds.

He is not the only regular Wallabies player to miss the last of three logistics camps held during the Super Rugby season as Melbourne Rebels half-back Nick Phipps has been usurped by Brumbies number nine Nic White as Genia’s back-up.

With Beale currently out of the picture and injury-plagued Waratah Berrick Barnes sidelined, O’Connor appears set to regain the number 10 jersey he wore with distinction in the 2011 end-of-year tour.

Uncapped Brumbies playmaker Christian Lealiifano is seen as the next cab off the rank but he has played the bulk of 2013 at inside centre.

Despite the NSW Waratahs’ rocky start to 2013, they will still boast most of the players – including a full forward pack – currently among the country’s top 30.

Deans will name his initial 25-man squad for the three-Test Lions series on June 2, while five more will be added following the next weekend’s round of Super Rugby matches.

Cooper and others outside the current 30 can work their way into Test squad over the next eight rounds of Super Rugby, and he has a prime chance to show his worth on Saturday against the defending champion Chiefs.

Reds mentor Ewen McKenzie’s decision to position Cooper at full-back in defence has not helped his Wallabies’ cause but the coach has stressed it is best for the Reds’ kick-return attack, rather than an indictment on his tackling.

“People say he’s been up and down. I think he’s been getting better every week,” McKenzie said.

“I think he’s been more mature this year. There’s no doubt the partnership he’s got with Will is a great partnership and you get confidence out of that.”

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13 Comments

  1. avatar The Year of the Cheetah says:
    April 10th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Still find it odd just how little in touch Deans is with the Ozzie culture in this regard yet it seems White got the balance right.

    Oz sits with these uber talented kids like O Connor and Beale and Cooper but I bet they are hard to coach and probably a little erratic in a squad setup as well.

    Yet if you can get those kids to perform optimally then nothing will stop you.

  2. avatar Morné says:
    April 10th, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Reply to The Year of the Cheetah @ 3:27 pm:

    Like Deans did with Carter?

  3. avatar DavidS says:
    April 10th, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Reply to The Year of the Cheetah @ 3:27 pm:

    Wow Brendon but you are stupid…

    Have you ever spoken to Deans, heard his game planning style, his management style, even his way of coaching…

    He is the most open and player oriented coach the Crusaders ever had… he let the players plan almost everything and just facilitated planning discussions.

    And when someone disrupted the easy going culture they were shipped off and released.

  4. avatar The Year of the Cheetah says:
    April 10th, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Reply to DavidS @ 5:48 pm:

    its maybe easy to be player centered if you coach in a country where the average player has a work ethic.

    The Oz kids are a bit egotistical without always deserving to be.

    They need to be handled differently I reckon.

  5. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    April 11th, 2013 at 3:57 am

    IF Genia is fit… Cooper will be playing full stop!

  6. avatar Deon says:
    April 12th, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Reply to The Year of the Cheetah @ 3:27 pm:

    I don’t think they are hard to coach. The problem is 2 of them are acting like snot nose punks. If only they would act their age and not thier IQ, it would allready be an improvement.

  7. avatar The Year of the Cheetah says:
    April 12th, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Reply to Deon @ 12:43 am:

    YOu need fokkol IQ if you have their talent. The behavior thing is just odd as at the Reds it has never blown up and even at the Tahs Beale was reigned in. Some people just manager some individuals better and other worse and I think Deans is maybe too uncompromising. Something I agree on by the way. Id hate to coach kids with a kak attitude especially if they have so much talent.

  8. avatar Craven says:
    April 12th, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Reply to The Year of the Cheetah @ 1:12 am:

    Don’t agree. Why do you need someone to manage you so that you don’t self destruct? What about your personal values or discipline?

  9. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    April 12th, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Reply to Craven @ 9:06 am:

    oooh Brand can wirte a book about that!! :whistling:

    Management of players is a tough one! Managing yourself is even tougher because you do not have an unbiased perspective!

  10. avatar DavidS says:
    April 12th, 2013 at 9:53 am

    No Brendon there are certain people who refuse to be managed no matter what approach one takes with them.

    The whole “management” thing is not one sided… the coach can only “manage” so much… if the players do not fit in or want to be “managed” they go.

    It works like that in the real world…

    I agree with Deon.

  11. avatar DavidS says:
    April 12th, 2013 at 9:54 am

    E.g.

    Guy like Michael Du Plessis was an outspoken critical self assured (arrogant) SOB… but when it came to his rugby he had a work ethic and put in the hard work and training and listened to his coaches and achieved the goals…

    Don’t want to play your part… well then…. tata ego

  12. avatar Ollie says:
    April 12th, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Reply to DavidS @ 9:54 am:

    Agreed, showing “special” treatment to one player results in others being pissed.

  13. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    April 12th, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Reply to Ollie @ 10:11 am:

    but they are a fickle bunch!! What do you do if for example you have a great player like Beal that has talent/X-factor coming out of his ears but does not show the commitment at training.
    1. You leave him out the team players will be asking “why? we need him bla bla bla!”
    2. you pick him then the player/players losing out are pissed because they show commitment and get over looked
    :noshake:

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