Queensland playmaker left out of final squad to play British and Irish side.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said Sunday that mercurial playmaker Quade Cooper will not be one of the six additions to his squad for the Test series against the British and Irish Lions.
Deans has left open the possibility of Cooper playing a part in this month’s three-Test series should injury strike key players, but did not call him into the camp following Saturday’s Queensland Reds-Lions game.
“We’ve obviously not included him (Cooper) in the additional six at this stage, but as you’ve seen (with injuries), things happen quickly,” Deans told reporters.
“This is a three-Test campaign and nothing surprises you in this industry.
“Quade is a huge talent; we understand what he is capable of.
“We’ve now settled on the squad and we’ll get on with our opportunity.”
Cooper did his best to confound the Lions and was at the heart of the Queensland Reds’ attack, showing glimpses of his best as the tourists struggled to a 22-12 win to remain unbeaten after three tour games in Brisbane on Saturday.
The polarising Queensland flyhalf has not featured for Australia since he labelled the Wallabies atmosphere “toxic” following last September’s narrow win over Argentina on the Gold Coast.
But while Cooper does not fit into Deans’s plans for the Lions series, troubled fullback Kurtley Beale is now expected to be included after recent rehab for alcohol problems.
Although the final squad of 31 is expected to be named late Monday Beale and four other players – centre Pat McCabe, scrumhalf Luke Burgess, backrower Peter Kimlin and prop Scott Sio – joined the Wallabies camp Sunday, signalling their inclusion.
Deans said Beale had “presented himself in the right physical and mental shape” after a rehabilitation programme to address problems with alcohol.
Lions coach Warren Gatland spoke highly of Cooper’s talents after the win over the Reds.
“He just plays with a different threat. With Quade you get the full bag of tricks. You’ve got to watch him – the quick taps and stuff,” Gatland said.
“If someone else plays 10 (for the Wallabies), you’ll get more structure.”
Former Wallaby Brendan Cannon, who made his international debut against the British and Irish Lions back in 2001, said Cooper’s errors on Saturday were outweighed by “an array of skills that is unmatched”.
“No other player in this country can pass with the width and accuracy that he does, and that tested the Lions on numerous occasions,” Cannon said.
“What we saw last night was the kind of expansive play that can defeat the Lions over three Tests.”
Cooper’s Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie repeated his belief that Cooper should be in the Wallabies squad.
“I know I’m biased, but I pick Quade every week and if I was picking a team next week, I’d pick him again.”