Cooper must play Super Rugby to be in Wallabies contention: Cheika

Michael Cheika is willing to consider Quade Cooper for Wallabies selection based on his club rugby form but only if that was the highest level available to him.

Cooper is being paid $650,000 by RA and Queensland to play club rugby in Brisbane after being frozen out by Reds head coach Brad Thorn.

This alone wouldn't rule him out of a return to the Australian fold, Cheika said, but Cooper's refusal to entertain interest from the Rebels and Brumbies is a dealbreaker.

Club land: Cheika has backed Brad Thorn's call on Quade Cooper

Photo: AAP

"If he hadn't had the opportunity to go and play Super Rugby I would say yes [to picking him out of club rugby] because fair enough, it's not his fault, but he's being offered opportunities and I think he should take them," he said.

"But he's been offered opportunities and I think he should take one – and I would like him to take one of them so he can get up there and be in the position."


Cooper appears set, however, to continue plying his trade for Brisbane Souths.

"I want to be clear," said Cheika on Fox Sports. "I've been watching his club footy games. It's been really good actually. The standard of the comp in Brisbane – because I've been watching more games for that reason – it's been outstanding.

"But (he needs to) even just go and get a couple of games at the (Super Rugby) pace. It goes up a level so then, when it comes to the Test, you'll be ready to go. He has to have form on the board, like all players."

Thorn, in his first year as a Super Rugby coach, banished Cooper from the Queensland squad before a ball was even kicked this season and has repeatedly said the Reds were "going in a different direction".

Cheika is adamant he won't intervene, not only on the Cooper conundrum but with any selection issues involving Australia's four Super Rugby sides.

"If we want to start to build a proper type of collaboration, where the national team's involved with the states, you've got to trust and respect what the coaches are doing as well," Cheika said. "So if he's (Thorn) saying there's no way he's coming back in, I trust him."

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Georgina Robinson

Georgina Robinson is a Sports Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald

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