After the kind of growing pains most people experience when moving overseas – language, lodgings, weather – Quade Cooper has started to not only adjust to life in Toulon but embrace his move to the French rugby giant.
Increasingly content he may be, but the former Reds man has hardly given up on future appearances for the Wallabies despite finishing the World Cup campaign two caps shy of qualifying for the rule that allows overseas players to be selected.
When Cooper was picked in the World Cup squad, he looked all but certain to get to the 60-game mark, thus ensuring his continued availability for the Wallabies despite his change of location.
When it all ended on 58 matches, Cooper was stranded. Philosophical, but stranded all the same.
“When I was at the World Cup, I thought about it at the start of the tournament,” he said. “But I said: ‘If it’s to be it’s to be; if it’s not it’s not’.
“I’ve just got to be happy and content with my life at the moment. I’m playing over here in France. I’ve also got the opportunity to play some sevens and maybe go to an Olympic Games. I’m in no position to be complaining.”
His deal with the Australian Rugby Union’s sevens program will give Cooper at least three more occasions to wear a gold jersey, with the playmaker inked in for tournaments in Sydney in February, as well as London and Paris.
Cooper hopes he will be a sevens hit and be part of the squad that travels to Rio for the Games, where Cooper could run headlong into good mate Sonny Bill Williams, who on paper looks to be a nightmare opponent in the condensed form of the code.
It is going to be a genuine dream come true for Cooper should he make it to the Games. He has often envisaged the thrill of being part of the expanded Australian Olympic effort, as well as walking out in a ceremony surrounded by the best athletes on the globe.
But a good part of him will always want to play for the Wallabies in whatever capacity. At 27, he feels like he has more to give and has developed a strong relationship with Michael Cheika, who might yet conjure a way around the two-match deficit.
The Wallabies will embark on a grand slam tour at the end of the year, which could yet yield some possibilities if ARU management can think laterally enough to create some wiggle room.
And Cooper said there is no guarantee the 60-Test mark will not be reduced, although that would need to be carefully balanced out against the potential impact on the domestic game at Super Rugby level.
“That rule was just put in place, so whether it changes, whether it doesn’t … it might go to 50. Anything’s possible,” Cooper said.
“I hope I do get the opportunity to play some more Tests – that’s what I love doing – but at the moment I’m excited to come home and play in the sevens format in front of a packed stadium in Sydney.”
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