Rugby Union

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Quade goes it alone


Quade Cooper has spoken up. Woe to him, all of the other players in and around the greater Wallaby universe are choosing to forever hold their peace.

This was always going to be the big gamble for Cooper once he made the decision to become a rogue agent. When you begin operations against The Company, you've got to be able to count on a few foot soldiers to take up arms for the cause.

At the moment, any potential allies in the squabble with Robbie Deans and the Australian Rugby Union are still at the start line, peering through binoculars and seeing how far Cooper can make it before he gets taken out.

Meanwhile, Cooper is staring back from no-man's land, trying to urge them forward from their foxholes and attempting to convince the public they aren't a figment of his imagination.

You can't knock Cooper's bravado. On Fox last night, not only did he not back down from his gripes with the Australian game, he took it to a new level. Sports writers frequently complain about the generic non-opinions they get from footballers. Here's one leaving it all on the line.


But unless he finds some support from current and recent team-mates, the first rule of Quade Club is still "There is no Quade Club". His concerns, many potentially warranted, will thus be painted as the rantings of a disgruntled goose-stepper squeezing off shots as he chips-and-chases into the sunset.

Cooper has no doubts there are kindred spirits within the Wallabies. And any reporter who has picked up a phone in relation to this story this week has been assured he's not a lone cat howling on the fence about the issues within Australian rugby.

"There's no doubt that other people feel the same. I've just spoken up about being unhappy. Whether people choose to speak up, that's their choice," Cooper told The Rugby Club.

"There's no doubt that there's support amongst the boys. There are going to be people that are happy and some are unhappy."

So where are they? Happy or unhappy - the rugby public will take anything at this point.

It's unfair to expect players to buy into a discussion like this so close to a Test match. But when the dust has settled against the Springboks, surely there's a responsibility on some gutsy players to either take umbrage at Cooper's assertions or saddle up next to him.

The closest anybody has come is injured winger Drew Mitchell, who went on Twitter to post: "Finding it increasingly difficult to bite my tongue........." Whether he meant he was tired of Cooper's tirade, or agreed with him on every point, or simply finds it challenging to bite his tongue, nobody knows.

At long last, the ARU has surged off the ropes and swung a few shots of its own. John O'Neill felt compelled to refute some of Cooper's comments, saying they had left him "utterly confused". It's a start but hearing from management isn't enough, mostly because they're the guys Cooper and his supposed band of unmerry men are revolting against.

The main acts in all of this - the players - are yet to make a meaningful peep. Only injured halfback Will Genia has elaborated to any great detail, saying the Test in Africa will reveal the true character of the side. He's had a dollar each way.

Things may be all good and happy and peachy in the Wallabies, in which case Cooper will continue to find himself alienated from the group and even some of his Reds comrades. But if he's right, a notion some of his detractors don't seem willing to consider, then his fellow players shouldn't feel particularly proud about watching him flame out in public while they tow the company line.

Cooper has made his move. The most pressing question now is not where he will be playing next season - but whether anyone else in the game has the kahunas to either take him on or give credence to his concerns.


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