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Quade Cooper says he has no return date as playmaker opens up on road to Rugby World Cup, Australian rugby


Quade Cooper says his recovery from a broken Achilles has been “brilliant”, but the playmaker “can’t say” when he’ll be back on the playing field.

Cooper has played less than an hour of Test rugby in 2022 as his Test season was initially cruel with a calf niggle in the minutes before the Wallabies’ season opener against England and, more late, by a season-ending Achilles injury suffered in the second half. against Argentina in the opening match of the Rugby Championship on August 7.

The 34-year-old’s injury has left a big cloud hanging over the Wallabies as the World Cup year approaches.

With just five Tests before the Wallabies’ World Cup opener against Georgia in Paris on September 9, that means Dave Rennie will have very little time to establish combinations on his backline.

Rennie is counting on Cooper being fit and ready for the tournament opener.

Quade Cooper has revealed he doesn’t have a return date despite being invited to the Wallabies’ January training camp at Sanctuary Cove on January 12, 2023. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

It is understood Rennie sees Cooper’s head and shoulders above the rest of the No 10 options at his disposal, including Bernard Foley who has played six of the last seven Tests in 2022, and highly values ​​the veteran’s deep understanding of how to run a rugby team. the park.

It remains to be seen whether Cooper steps onto a rugby pitch in a professional game before the start of the Test season in July.

“I haven’t set a date,” Cooper told reporters before the Wallabies parted ways after a four-day training camp on the Gold Coast.

“I’m not too worried if I play or not play, the goal would be to be able to play for my Japanese club.

“We have a lot of games ahead of us. The season is much longer than the previous three seasons I’ve been in, so there’s a lot of football to play.

Pressed on whether fans should be excited about the prospect of him donning the boots ahead of the Wallabies’ season opener against the Springboks in South Africa, Cooper remained tight-lipped about a return-to-play date.

“Honestly, I can’t say,” Cooper insisted.

“And it’s not me trying to play hide and seek or anything like that. It’s just that I really don’t know.

“Ideally, I will play football in Japan for my club Kintetsu Liners and it will be the best possible result.

“If I am able to do that, I will be able to be selected for the TRC based on my performance.”

Quade Cooper says he has no return date as playmaker opens up on road to Rugby World Cup, Australian rugby

Samu Kerevi and Quade Cooper during a Wallabies training camp at Sanctuary Cove on January 12, 2023. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Rather than complete his rehabilitation in Japan, Cooper, along with Suntory-based Wallaby Samu Kerevi, got back in shape at the Queensland Academy of Sport.

Cooper, whose career has been hampered by injuries since his devastating knee injury in the bronze medal game against Wales in 2011, said he plans to start running by the end of the month , but gave hope to appear sooner rather than later saying his rehab has been a “smooth journey” so far.

“That type of injury, in my opinion, was one of the easiest I’ve had throughout my career,” he said.

” It’s just a matter of time. The first three months are the hardest part where you have to stay relatively still and find ways to keep improving as an athlete and find ways as a person to enjoy your life with the limitations of being on crutches and a small scooter, which is very useful.”

Cooper said he was confident of a successful comeback and ruled out any thoughts of mental scarring from his latest setback.

“I have no doubts about a return to some type of football or anything,” he said.

“The process of this whole journey has been more about my discipline and the habits that I choose to work on as a person, and those things are everyday things.

“The better I am, the more disciplined I am with who I am, how I act, the better the outcome will be with this injury.

“I’m not worried at all about coming back, or whether I’ll play well, I’m just enjoying the trip so far.”

Quade Cooper of Australia is tackled by Santiago Carreras of Argentina during the Rugby Championship match between Argentine Pumas and Australian Wallabies at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on August 06, 2022 in Mendoza, Argentina.  (Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)

Quade Cooper suffered the injury against Argentina in his one and only test of 2022. Photo: Daniel Jayo/Getty Images

A big part of the Wallabies camp was providing players with information on what they needed to do to make the 33-man squad for the World Cup.

It was also about getting some of the “paperwork done” done so that when the Wallabies regroup later in the year, they wouldn’t have as many off-field distractions.

“It’s been really good to connect with some coaches and get some really crucial feedback on what will help us this year, our end goal is to win a World Cup,” said Angus Bell.

The Wallabies also faced the departure of highly regarded assistant coach Scott Wisemantel, who resigned earlier in the year.

Cooper said he had no idea who could replace his portfolio, but the experienced Wallabies, who are keen to play in their third World Cup, said the experienced coach would leave a void in and out of the paddock at coaching.

“As a player, I’m not sure what’s going on around that, and it’s not a decision for me to make,” he said.

“It’s a huge loss that Wisey is leaving the band. He was a guy I got on really well with.

“I loved his philosophy around the game. As a man he was a guy who had great life philosophies and I always loved having a thread with him and will continue to stay in touch with him. throughout the year, and I’m sure we’ll hit base and catch up around those camps.

The Wallabies will regroup with their Super Rugby franchises ahead of the February 24 start date.

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