Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels has talked up his latest recruit’s chances of appearing at next year’s World Cup in Japan.
30-year-old Quade Cooper was unwanted by the Queensland Reds and has spent the past year playing club and domestic rugby with Souths and Brisbane City.
70-Test veteran Cooper last played for the Wallabies in June last year, but he is hoping a new deal with the Melbourne Rebels will reignite his hopes of playing international rugby once again.
“Quade’s really been playing for the better part of a decade pretty much full- on, without a break,” Wessels said.
“This is the first time his body has had a bit of a breather and I think both mentally and physically that makes a difference, and when you talk to him it’s obvious he’s got a real energy for the game.
“My gut feel is that the time off has been really good for him.”
Wessels backed Cooper’s ability to return for the Wallabies’ upcoming World Cup campaign.
“A talent like his deserves to be playing at the top end of the game but the only person who is going to change that now is him,” he said.
“I think if he’s in the mind space to come and work hard and put the effort in he’s certainly got the ability to be at the World Cup.
“What’s been so refreshing in my conversations with Quade is just his appetite to work hard over the next couple of months.”
The Rebels have been searching for a No. 10, most recently using Wallabies midfielder Reece Hodge in the role. Wessels said Cooper had been received well by the club.
“I’ve spoken to a number of senior players who know him well, like Will [Genia], Dane [Haylett-Petty] and Reece Hodge and they’ve spoken very positively about him.
“I’ve also had some calls from people who have coached him or know him well and they’ve described him as a real gem.”
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.