Former Wallabies skipper George Gregan believes Quade Cooper is under enough pressure as national deputy without being considered for the captaincy.
Debate might rage over the merits of Quade Cooper as Wallabies skipper but George Gregan hinted the Queensland Reds’ playmaker had enough on his plate as Australia’s vice-captain.
The former Wallabies’ skipper could see the benefits of Cooper’s foray into boxing and marvelled at his rejuvenation barely 12 months after describing the Australian team’s environment as “toxic”.
Cooper’s transformation appears almost complete after the once-troubled five-eighth was thrown into the Wallabies’ captaincy mix following incumbent skipper Ben Mowen’s decision to head for France at the end of the year.
However, Gregan suggested the extra responsibility of captaincy might not be ideal for the enigmatic Cooper who already held a a high-pressure Wallabies role.
“He is in a very influential and responsible position anyway and there is a lot of pressure on the 10,” Gregan told AAP.
“Can it be done? Yes.
“But taking on a bit more responsibility as a vice-captain and supporting the skipper in terms of steering the team around with Will Genia, I think, is already a nice mix.”
Gregan baulked at suggesting who should replace Mowen but believed the Wallabies already had an ideal leadership group in the likes of Cooper and ex-skippers James Horwill, Genia and comeback story David Pocock.
“I think it is good in that there are a number of candidates,” he said.
“All good teams have three, four or upwards who, if need be, could put their hand up as captain.
“They know they have a core group of leaders around them who support them.
“That’s what I like seeing in this Wallabies team and whoever gets the job will do really well with great support around them.”
Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver has hinted boxing might off the table in the next contract talks with Cooper later this year but Gregan gave the green light to the Reds’ five-eighth’s pugilistic ambitions.
“Mixed training is good for different reasons. It adds variety which you have to have – it’s stimulating,” he said.
Cooper is preparing for his second professional fight – a match-up against Newcastle boxer Warren Tresidder in Brisbane on Wednesday night as part of Anthony Mundine’s undercard.
Genia said it had not been a distraction for the Reds ahead of their Super Rugby campaign.
“It’s a tricky one in that Bill is the boss and what he says goes but, if he asked my opinion, he is in the best shape that he has ever been; mentally he is in a really good space,” he said.
“Boxing gives him (Cooper) confidence which flows into his rugby which can only be a good thing.”