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The reason behind botched Barbarians announcement of Quade Cooper

By Alex McLeod

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Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has offered some insight behind Quade Cooper’s denial that he will play for the Barbarians next month.

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The famous invitational club last week announced that Cooper, the 74-test star playmaker, was one of three players who would wear the black-and-white hoops against Samoa at Twickenham on November 27.

Cooper was named alongside Springboks props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe as three of the newest additions to the Barbarians squad, which will be coached by Rennie for their one-off fixture.

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However, Cooper took to Twitter in the wake of the announcement to deny any involvement with the Barbarians as he said he remains contracted to his Japanese club, the Kintetsu Liners, and hadn’t agreed to play.

“At no stage have I agreed to play for the @Barbarian_FC in the upcoming game against Samoa. I’m contracted to the Kintetsu Liners,” the 33-year-old posted last Tuesday.

Speaking to media following the announcement of his end-of-year tour squad – which Cooper is part of – on Friday, Rennie addressed the confusion over the matter by saying the Barbarians had “jumped the gun” on their announcement.

“We’d spoken to Quade, but he’s got a club to go back to, too,” Rennie said.

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“We’re obviously keen for him to tour and stay another week, but obviously that makes it a little more difficult. He was certainly interested but he hadn’t committed. All good, no damage done.”

Cooper’s contractual status with the Kintetsu Liners is also causing headaches for Rennie as Wallabies boss as he remains uncertain whether the first-five will be available for Australia’s test against Japan in Oita next Saturday.

The match falls outside World Rugby’s designated November test window, meaning foreign clubs aren’t obligated to release their players for Wallabies duties.

It also means Rennie may be without Suntory Sungoliath pair Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon for the Brave Blossoms clash, but he said he is in constant dialogue with the Japanese clubs about his players’ availability.

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“The key thing around this is we’re trying to create a strong relationship with the Japanese clubs too, because while, from a Reg Nine point-of-view, we can grab them, they’re their primary employer at the moment,” Rennie said.

“While they’ve been very supportive, they’ve also got their own programmes to focus on and they want to be successful as well and I guess they want their best players fit and available, so it’s important we establish a good relationship there.”

Rennie also doesn’t expect to obtain the services of recalled France-based forwards Will Skelton, Rory Arnold and Tolu Latu until after round 10 of the Top 14, which won’t be until after Australia’s test against Scotland in Edinburgh on November 7.

The Barbarians have already announced a number of key players for next month’s clash, including Wallabies trio Nic White, Len Ikitau and Pete Samu, Springboks duo Malcolm Marx and Duane Vermeulen, and Los Pumas loose forward Pablo Matera.

Their match against Samoa comes in spite of the fact that the Pacific Island nation cancelled its end-of-year tour – where they would have also faced Georgia, Uruguay and Spain – due to health concerns for local-based players regarding Covid-19.

Instead, Lakapi Samoa, the nation’s governing body, said it expects a “Manu Samoa selection” made up of European-based players and staff will play the Barbarians in a match that has already sold more than 30,000 tickets.

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The reason behind botched Barbarians announcement of Quade Cooper

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