Stand-in Wallabies skipper Nathan Sharpe has not made contact with Quade Cooper since the star five-eighth labelled the Wallabies' environment as toxic. Photo: Reuters
FLORENCE: Quade Cooper's attack on the Wallabies culture drove the Australian Test side to victory over Argentina and a defining draw with New Zealand last month, captain Nathan Sharpe has revealed.
Sharpe said it was a "shame" Cooper believed the culture of the team was "toxic" but that he took seriously the accusation, which was made in the middle of a difficult Rugby Championship campaign for the Wallabies and Cooper.
"You've got to take an objective view on it, often emotion clouds decisions when you look at things like that," Sharpe said.
Boxing clever? Quade Cooper. Photo: Andrew Meares
"We spoke to a few people and had a look at the environment, we made our own assumptions and assessments, then we responded the way that we thought we needed to. I think after that we had a couple of pretty good performances against Argentina and then New Zealand.
"So it's a shame that Quade felt that way, certainly you don't want any player ever feeling like that, but that's the way it rolled out. And that's the thing about the Wallaby jersey, it's going to go on no matter who's wearing it."
Sharpe made the comments as reports swirled of the controversial Reds five-eighth's imminent departure from Australian rugby.
The 114-Test veteran said he had not made contact with Cooper since the 24-year-old fired his opening shot at the ARU and the Wallabies in September.
"I guess I thought there was more pressing issues within the team at the moment that we needed to get on top of so it wasn't for me to go down that path," Sharpe said.
"There's other guys in the team that fulfil that role, they're good mates with him and catch up with him regularly. The way that they handled that has been good up until this stage."
Sharpe said Cooper still had a contribution to make to the Wallabies and would be a loss if he chose to leave the code in Australia.
"He was a key part of Queensland winning their title in Super 15 and he's an immensely talented player, so the more players like that you've got in Australia the better," he said. "But sometimes the chips don't fall the way everyone wants them to."
The ARU sent out a short statement on Monday night, saying: "ARU has had no communication with Quade or his management regarding the speculation. Questions regarding Quade's future are a matter best addressed by Quade's management."