Quade Cooper’s focus on Australia for now

WALLABIES playmaker Quade Cooper has sidestepped questions about his future amid speculation he could back out of a deal with French club Toulon to try to play for Australia when rugby sevens make its Olympic debut in Rio next year.

Asked at training ahead of Saturday night's opening Rugby Championship match against South Africa in Brisbane, when a final decision could be expected, Cooper said it wasn't

somethng he was even thinking about.

"I'm very focused on the Wallabies right now," Cooper told reporters.

"The future is the future and the past is the past.

"The preparation for this week is all I'm going to focus on - getting out there, doing the right thing, contributing to the team - and we'll go from there."

Whether the Queensland Reds flyhalf gets a run against the Springboks is another question.

Waratahs No.10 Bernard Foley trained in the position yesterday, although coach Michael Cheika has run several players in the role in the lead-up to the game.

Foley would seem to have the inside running, however, given Cooper's ongoing issues with a shoulder injury during the recent

Super Rugby season, and the likelihood Matt Giteau will play at inside centre.

Cooper acknowledged his injury problems had been frustrating.

But said the upside was he was fresh for the big games to come.

"I'm not going to lie. Injuries are mentally very hard to overcome," the 27-year-old said.

"It's been a blessing in one way for the Reds not to make the finals because I had extra weeks to recoup and come into the Rugby Championship fit and fresh."

Cheika is known to be a big fan of the Queenslander, but whether Cooper is able to renegotiate a deal that allows him to stay in Australian rugby remains to be seen.

While playing at the Olympics could be a big attraction, the big sticking point could be reaching an agreement with the

Queensland Rugby Union.

Cooper would not comment on that yesterday, following the QRU's decision three weeks ago to end discussions because of what it called "unrealistic expectations made by his management."

- APN SPORTS BUREAU


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