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Cooper to sit up and take notice, says Reds boss

Quade Cooper ... has had a reality check, according to the Reds chief executive, Jim Carmichael.

Quade Cooper ... has had a reality check, according to the Reds chief executive, Jim Carmichael. Photo: Getty Images

OVER a coffee in Brisbane in late September, Quade Cooper asked Reds chief executive Jim Carmichael if there might be room at Ballymore for Sonny Bill Williams.

Cooper had tweeted, a day or so earlier, that he ''wanted to play with'' his close friend Williams, who was making his way from New Zealand rugby to NRL club Sydney Roosters.

The pair agreed it was a great idea that had little chance of coming to fruition. But the damage was done. The tweet was widely perceived and reported as an indication the Reds' five-eighth was about to jump ship himself. He had signed a three-year deal with the Reds in June but was haggling over the fine detail in his contract with the ARU.

In the coming days, the Williams comment formed part of a large and destructive snowball that careered out of Cooper's control with claims of a ''toxic'' team culture and a refusal to don the Wallabies jersey, before juddering to a halt this week with a $40,000 fine and a two-year good behaviour bond.

It was six weeks that Cooper will never forget. After a draining four-hour hearing in the presence of seven suits, the 24-year-old offered a quiet but sincere public acknowledgement of his failings. He does not think he is wrong, but he knows he went too far.

''I think there was a bit of a reality check for Quade that we can have an opinion but it doesn't necessarily mean that everything will change the way that we want it to change,'' Carmichael said on Thursday.

''There was an enormous amount of Quade learning that he had to accept that [the issues are] complex, and we need to work together on that. And I genuinely believe he will. He sees that he needs to be as positive an influence around the Wallabies as he is with Queensland.''

Whether or not he will get that opportunity remains to be seen. The ARU is yet to retable its contract offer with Cooper after withdrawing it in September. Cooper's knee injury has proved a far greater challenge than he expected. And there are relationships to mend in the Wallabies camp.

''If Quadey gets back with the Wallabies and gets picked by the coaches he would have earned it,'' erstwhile Wallabies captain David Pocock said on Thursday. ''If you earn your place in the jersey, the boys will play with you.''

Even the Queensland-based Wallabies were hurt by Cooper's public pronouncements. Opinions are one thing, but disregard for the gold jersey - perceived or real - crosses the line.

''I can't speak for those in the national team that I don't have a direct relationship with through Queensland,'' Carmichael said.

''But more important than whether I think there's work to be done, Quade - from when this first started - has put a lot of time into trying to explain to his teammates how he feels, and I'm pleased to say his teammates very much respect him. Quade, I have no doubt, will put all the time and effort that's needed to restore any faith or trust that may have been breached.''

At the height of the drama, Carmichael was calling his injured playmaker in for ''coffee'' up to three times a week. He and coach Ewen McKenzie take their roles as mentors seriously, to say the least.

There is a theory going around Super Rugby teams that if the Wallabies put half as much effort into player guidance and welfare, especially during extended injury lay-offs, many of the behavioural issues that cropped up this season might have been nipped in the bud.

The ARU, as well as many a rugby fan, would be entitled to wonder, on the basis of that theory, whether players are men or children in a creche. How many times is a Quade Cooper entitled to the benefit of the doubt, or a renewal of trust from a weary supporter?

''Quade is very, very conscious of how serious it was to speak out in a very inappropriate way,'' Carmichael said. ''I very much think that the penalty was a very just penalty considering the seriousness of the matter. But I think what mattered as much to Quade was how much he'd let his game down and himself down and all the people that are in the game. I genuinely believe that is weighing more heavily on his mind than the fines and suspension.''

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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