Cooper set to reject Toulon and stay in Australia

Wallabies star play maker Quade Cooper will reject a big-money move to France
to play for Toulon and stay in Australia and continue to play Super Rugby for
an Australian team in 2017.

A report in Australia over the weekend says that the Australian Rugby Union
are preparing to announced that Cooper has signed a four-year deal to remain
in Australia.

Fairfax Media said that the announcement was expected to be made on Monday
confirming Cooper’s re-signing with the ARU, after his Queensland Reds team
severed ties with him last month amid acrimonious contractual negotiations

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika gave nothing away to reporters on Sunday following
his team’s last-gasp 24-20 win over South Africa in the Rugby Championship opener
in Brisbane the previous night.

But Cheika has reportedly been a significant figure in the ARU’s talks with
Cooper and his management and has repeatedly underlined the importance of keeping
the skilful fly-half in Australian rugby.

“I haven’t been on top of it, I’ll be honest with you, this week, at all,”
Cheika told reporters.

“Obviously, you can see by him getting the first selection (at fly-half)
what we think about him as a player.

“With us helping him get to where he wants to go and become an even better
player, we’re still yet to see the best of Quade Cooper.”

Cooper will reportedly devote all of next year to the Sevens Olympics programme,
and then return to Super Rugby in 2017.

Australia’s Sevens team has yet to qualify for the Rio Olympics.

However, the report said the plan was for Cooper to probably join the national
squad in the New Year and take part in a number of warm-up tournaments to prepare
himself for the Olympic tournament, if the Australians qualify.

It was not clear how Cooper negotiated his exit with Toulon, the report said.

Cheika said Cooper did a “pretty nice job” against the Springboks
but may yet shuffle his options for the remainder of the Rugby Championship
with the likes of Matt Toomua, Matt Giteau and Kurtley Beale at his disposal.

“I don’t know if we delivered the platform consistently enough for Quade
to get on the front foot,” Cheika said.

“Whereas Toomua is a sort of bulkier player who will almost take it on
as a third or fourth back-rower as well as a playmaker.

“That’s the different profile the guys have.”

“We’ve got good options there, we’ll have a look at it.”

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