Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has no fears that Quade Cooper will walk away from Australian rugby before next year’s World Cup.
Ewen McKenzie has weathered several Quade Cooper contract negotiations and, once again, has little concern his mercurial playmaker will walk out on the Wallabies before next year’s World Cup.
Although contracted to the Queensland Reds for 2015, Cooper’s current two-year Australian Rugby Union deal expires at the end of this year.
Reports in the Fairfax Media press on the weekend suggested the 50-Test five-eighth could take up a lucrative French offer after negotiations with the national body had stalled.
But, in an important sign, McKenzie is confident Cooper will stay on.
Even during four seasons of guiding him at the Reds, when Cooper was involved in highly-publicised and prolonged contract negotiations three times, the Wallabies coach regularly indicated the talented No.10 hungered to stay in Australia.
McKenzie admitted he wasn’t involved in the current negotiations but had kept regular contact with Cooper as he rehabilitates from hip and shoulder surgery.
“I don’t get any inkling that he’s disappearing,” he said.
“He’s working hard on his rehab to get back on the field. That’s part of the discussions I’ve had.
“I’m not sitting here nervous with his intentions. I haven’t picked up any mood that there’s any reason for me to be worried.”
After undergoing surgery in May, Cooper is set to return to action next month in the National Rugby Championship.
He will aim to make the spring tour of Europe but may find himself third in line to the five-eighth role with Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale filling the position this year.
Benched X-factor Beale is also off contract this year, and both players could demand more from the ARU if either headed overseas.
But McKenzie was just as confident Beale, who the NSW Waratahs expected to re-sign last week, would stay put.
“Things drift in and out of the newspapers,” McKenzie said.
“I don’t pick up any distraction there, obviously they (the players) have people they employ to look after that.”