Quade Cooper is far from happy about being snubbed by Australian sevens coach Andy Friend after being told he would not be required for this weekend's inaugural Sydney Sevens tournament.
Cooper, who has been playing the 15-man format for Toulon in France, raced from Sydney Airport to the training paddock after a 20-hour flight in a last-ditch effort to impress Friend before he finalised his 12-man squad.
Cooper misses selection for Sydney Sevens
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Cooper misses selection for Sydney Sevens
Wallaby five-eighth misses selection for the Sydney Sevens after being omitted from the squad.
Teammates were impressed by Cooper's dedication to make his way to Narrabeen on Wednesday in a bid to sharpen up his skills before the two-day tournament at Allianz Stadium this weekend. But it appears the 58-Test Wallabies veteran did not have enough experience, or preparation, in the truncated code to convince Friend to give him the nod.
It is a bold move given Cooper has been promoted by the Australian Rugby Union as its star player. Now thousands of fans too, will have to deal with the disappointment of missing out on seeing the electric playmaker in action.
Whether or not there was external pressure on Friend - who is taking charge for his first major tournament - to pick Cooper given he has been given a short-term release from Toulon to play in three sevens tournaments, he has stuck to his guns and shown faith in other players who have been around the sevens scene for a lot longer than Cooper.
From a technical point of view, Friend's decision is understandable, as Cooper has had almost next to no time to get a grasp of plays or the demands of sevens, but given Australia's below-par ranking, it is a bold call nonetheless.
The Thunderbolts, as the Australian team is nicknamed, sit eighth in the World Series standings - one spot above Kenya. By not opting to inject the attacking flair and creativity of Cooper, Friend has left himself open to criticism should his side fail to reach its potential in front of a large home crowd.
"There is no doubt in my mind that he will be a tremendous addition to the squad as we build towards Rio, but due to circumstances which were beyond Quade's control, and our control, he just couldn't get enough work in this week with the team," Friend said. "Quade is an exceptional footballer and has shown real character to put his hand up and say I want to be part of this team and work hard for this opportunity. He is going to get his opportunities during the series and we are really excited to have him here in our group and with us throughout this preparation."
Cooper will stay in Sydney and focus his attention on getting to grips with the sport as he pushes for a spot on Australia's team for the Rio Olympics in August. But he is believed to have told those close to him that he is annoyed at having to make a trip to the other side of the world to be a waterboy.
ARU general manager of high performance, Ben Whitaker, said it was not a given players from the 15-man code would be gifted selection on a silver platter, but praised Cooper for his attitude at training.
"We've got a plan going forward that means whilst this is a tough decision to not play Quade this weekend, the plan going forward will give both him and the team the opportunity to be involved to develop and push for selection," Whitaker said.
Cooper's non-selection was as much of a surprise to him as it was to those on social media, who were far from impressed.
A day earlier, Cooper made it clear he wanted to start immediately, saying: "In the short-term I'm just looking to get out there as soon as I can and join the guys," before adding: "It's never a waste of a trip to come here and meet the guys. Sevens is a team sport, so I want to spend as much time as I can with them and obviously join in."
Australian squad: 1. Henry Hutchison, 2. Tom Kingston, 3. Sam Myers, 4. Lewis Holland, 5. James Stannard, 6. Con Foley, 7. Cameron Clark, 8. Greg Jeloudev, 9. Ed Jenkins (c), 10. Allan Fa'alava'au, 11. Henry Speight, 12. Tom Cusack.