Ahead of the opening Test against England in Perth, Wallabies veteran Quade Cooper says his exchanges with the old enemy’s playmaker Marcus Smith are mutually beneficial and for the good of rugby.
Connecting over social media, Smith recently revealed Cooper, 11 years his senior at 34, had “helped me a lot”. That included sharing the way Cooper analysed opposition and dealt with mistakes mid-game.
Whilst that may raise the eyebrows of rugby traditionalists, Cooper says he is also learning from Smith, who he described as a “great talent”, and other young players who challenged his own views.
“It’s more so being able to see things from other people’s perspective and not just keeping encapsulated by your own view,” Cooper said. “That’s a great thing about having a conversation, and especially with some of the guys who come from a different era.
“When I was coming through, I saw things a certain way … the luxury of nowadays is that we have access to those types of people. When when I was young, we couldn’t just send Carlos Spencer an Instagram DM and have a chat to him, everything was kind of out of reach.
“For me it’s been able to have communication both ways, to be able to learn from them, be able to understand what goes through their head, what makes him tick as well.”
Cooper said he wanted his peers, rivals and rugby in general to flourish.
“We’re all here to help each other grow, we play a sport that is a competitive sport, but at the end of the day we play the same sport,” Cooper said. “If you’re of the mindset of you’re trying to hold things back from other people, and you’re trying to stunt someone else’s growth, that’s such a negative way to live your life.”
Japan-based Cooper is in a three-way tussle with James O’Connor and Noah Lolesio to wear the Wallabies No 10 jumper on Saturday night at Optus Stadium. After a four-year absence he made a surprise return to the international arena last year, playing five Tests for five wins.
He did not join the Wallabies on their UK tour and did not face England. Australia lost three from three without Cooper at the helm.
Cooper said coach Dave Rennie was keeping the players on their toes ahead of the team announcement.
“There’s players who are in some red-hot form, between guys who play in Japan and Australia,” he said. “The last week, everything’s been quite hotly contested, coaches are keeping everyone on their toes by chopping and changing the bibs and who’s meshed with what person.
“There’s no guarantees in any of this, so we just do the best that we can to make sure that we’re we’re prepared and ready, no matter whose name’s called.”