Quade Cooper uncertain over Wallabies’ UK tour as talks continue with Japanese club
Quade Cooper remains uncertain if Saturday’s Test against Japan will be his last for 2021 with discussions continuing between the Wallabies and his Japanese club Kintetsu. The playmaker is set to line up for the Oita Test on Saturday but may miss the remaining three Tests against Scotland, England and Wales.
The 33-year-old said a decision on his playing status was “above my pay grade” and he would support his club after it allowed him to join the Wallabies squad during the Rugby Championship. Cooper has played two seasons with the ambitious Liners, helping them back into Japan’s Top League competition for 2022.
“Right now I’m not 100% sure. There’s conversations still happening behind the scenes between the Wallabies and Kintetsu,” Cooper said. “Our clubs are our employers so I’ve got nothing but respect for them and they’ve been very supportive of this opportunity, to come into the set-up here at the Wallabies during my holiday. So, whenever I’m due back, I’ll follow whatever’s asked of me.”
Cooper said he had been involved in the discussions, adding it was unfamiliar territory after so long being out of the Wallabies fold with his last Test in 2017.
“I love playing for my country, it’s a huge honour every opportunity you get. For me even being back in the squad, that was something that I hadn’t planned for so I guess it’s uncharted territory and it’s happened fairly quickly.”
He expected Japan to pose a threat to the Wallabies under the dome in Oita, which suited the Brave Blossoms’ fast, attacking style.
“Two of their guys play in my [Kintetsu] team – Siosaia Fifita and Semisi Masirewa – and they are both phenomenal athletes,” he said. “When you’re watching Japanese Top 14, the games are lightning quick, they’re free-flowing, they run the ball from everywhere.
“The collisions are not as high, but when you look throughout the ranks of all the teams there are some very big and physical players so that they can match it with anyone in terms of physicality. I think it’s their brand of football that they bring, they’re exciting to watch and tough to play against … it’s going to be a very tough ask coming up against them.”
Australia-born winger Dylan Riley is also in the mix to make his Japan debut, with Cooper a fan after playing alongside him in the NRC with Brisbane City in 2017. The former Australian Under-20 representative has lit up Top 14 since ex-Wallabies coach Robbie Deans and his club, Panasonic Knights, came calling.
“I played with Dyl and he’s a great defender and a great attacker … so I hope that he gets an opportunity,” Cooper said. “It’d be great to see him play and be able to play against him.”