Quade Cooper snubbed by Eddie Jones again in brutal new development

Wallabies veteran Quade Cooper's hopes of a Rugby World Cup swansong took a decisive hit after a major Eddie Jones decision

Quade Cooper is pictured left, and is seen in conversation with Eddie Jones on the right.
Quade Cooper has been left out of the Australia A side by coach Eddie Jones, just days after being omitted from the 33-man Wallabies squad for the Rugby World Cup. Pictures: Getty Images

Wallabies veteran Quade Cooper's future with the national side has been cast into some doubt, after head coach Eddie Jones opted not to include him in the Australia A team for an upcoming friendly against Portugal. It comes after the veteran playmaker was dropped from the 33-man Wallabies squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, as Jones moved towards a younger squad.

Jones has installed veteran Bernard Foley at five-eight in the back-up squad, all but ruling out the possibility of Cooper making a return for the World Cup. The 35-year-old was Jones' first-choice No.10 for Australia's first two Tests this season before being relegated to the bench behind Carter Gordon and now completely dumped altogether.

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Cooper was one of a number of veteran omissions that have raised some eyebrows, with Jones even admitting the clear move towards a younger squad was done with an eye towards the 2027 Rugby World Cup, to be hosted in Australia. Former captain Michael Hooper was also dropped, while James Slipper was replaced as captain by Will Skelton.

Jones said informing Hooper and Cooper of their axing had been tough but backed those selected. "They're really difficult decisions, they're both very good players, but ... young players are the players that are going to take Australian rugby forward," he said.

"This squad is good enough to win this World Cup and possibly go on to win the next World Cup. That's the advantage of picking young guys. They all deserve their opportunities. It's not as if we're handing them jerseys on a platter but they'll bring energy and a lot of ambition and enthusiasm."

After being Robbie Deans' go-to playmaker in New Zealand in 2011, Cooper barely featured under Michael Cheika in the 2015 edition in the UK. He then missed selection in Cheika's 2019 squad in Japan, before Jones started him in two Tests to start 2023.

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Hooper's omission had been widely forecast before Thursday's announcement after the flanker lost his race against time with a calf injury. Many rugby fans, including Wallabies legend Tim Horan, felt Hooper's experience could have been vital to the Wallabies squad, even if the record-holding Wallabies captain wasn't available until later in the tournament.

Jones named Hooper and Slipper as co-captains ahead of the Rugby Championship but has shuffled his leadership plans, naming Skelton as skipper with McDermott, who led the Wallabies against the All Blacks in Dunedin last weekend, as his deputy. Skelton will be the fifth player to lead the Wallabies in little more than a year, after Hooper, Slipper, Alaalatoa and McDermott.

Eddie Jones has come under fire for his controversial decision to turn to a young Wallabies squad ahead of the Rugby World Cup in September. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)
Eddie Jones has come under fire for his controversial decision to turn to a young Wallabies squad ahead of the Rugby World Cup in September. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

"My job is to come here and change the team, and part of that is changing ... the way the team is led," Jones said. "Will's a good man, a good team man, he's played in a lot of winning teams in Europe and he brings that almost common touch to the team to bring them together."

A whopping 25 of the 33 players picked haven't been to a World Cup before, with all nine locks and back-rowers yet to feature at the showpiece event. The Wallabies have gathered in Darwin for a four-day camp, readying themselves for their final tune-up match against France on August 28.

Their opening World Cup match is against Georgia on September 10.

With AAP

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