Quade Cooper has opened up on his season-ending injury in Argentina, revealing he was “relieved” to have not hurt his knees or shoulders ahead of next season’s World Cup year.
Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with foxsports.com.au the world class playmaker said he believes the Wallabies are growing, even if on-field results aren’t painting the same rosy picture.
The 34-year-old was forced off early in the second half during the Wallabies’ bonus-point win over Los Pumas in Mendoza earlier this month.
The sorry sight of seeing him assisted off the field moments after putting Jordan Petaia through a hole and running more freely in a rugby jersey than he has since his gut-wrenching knee-injury in New Zealand left hearts in mouths for most observers, as he returned to Australia in moon boot after injuring his Achilles heel.
The injury was the latest in a series of setbacks for the Wallabies who lost influential centre Samu Kerevi for the season only a week earlier and were dealing with captain Michael Hooper’s sudden withdrawal, too.
But the season-ending loss of Cooper, who is unbeaten from six Tests since his remarkable return to international rugby last year, was arguably the most significant of the lot because few teams recover without their main shotcaller.
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Yet for Cooper, whose rugby career has been full of highs and lows, the maturing playmaker was philosophical about his latest setback.
“I was actually, in some ways, relieved because I’ve been carrying a bit of pain in it,” Cooper told foxsports.com.au from Melbourne, as he spoke alongside two-time World Cup winner Sonny Bill Williams ahead of next month’s Bledisloe Cup fixture at Marvel Stadium.
“But also, for me, it was like of all the injuries, I was more than happy to have that rather than having a knee injury or shoulder injury, or something like that.
“I’ve had other injuries in the past, whether it’s a shoulder or a knee. When you start losing cartilage and meniscus and things like that, it’s such a difficult process to come back from because those things don’t grow back.
“With my injury, in terms of a soft tissue injury or muscle or a tendon, it’s going to come back and I’m going to be fine.
“I know that I’ll do the work to be prepared and I’m ready to put in the work.”
Cooper won’t put a timeline on his return, but will likely be back in time to take part in next year’s League One season in Japan.
“I’m not really putting a timeline on it, but I’m certainly not going to be rushing to try and play in three or four months,” he said.
“It’s just about using the habits and the disciplines that I’ve been able to build up over the past few years and just continue that process.
“If I do that, then I’ll be fit and healthy in no time, but just knowing that when it’s right to come back then I’ll come in whether that’s six months, whether that’s less or more.”
Rather than feeling sorry for himself, Cooper revealed he was “excited about the next six months” and said he now had the maturity to handle what life throws at him.
“There’s always going to be ups and downs,” he said.
“Nothing in life is going to be completely smooth but having the tools and being able to cope with those.
“That’s why I don’t mind whatever now, because I know that I have the tools and the way that I live my life every day is that I have the ability to not only cope with it but be able to excel and make this sort of a great opportunity for myself to be able to continue with my own personal growth.”
He doesn’t have to look far for inspiration, with his close friend and dual-international Williams suffering a similar injury during the 2016 Olympics.
“The biggest thing is having people around you that have the same mindset, having a guy like Sonny, being able to spend time with him, being able to have conversations daily – those type of things are invaluable.
“It is, in my opinion, the company you keep reflects on the type of person you are.”
The Wallabies have come under a wave of pressure in recent weeks after losing their home series to England and having a record score put on them by Argentina.
The 48-17 loss to Argentina was the Wallabies’ sixth from eight matches, which has seen the Wallabies fall to seventh on the world rankings ahead of a tough month where they will face the Springboks and All Blacks in their next four Tests.
Cooper, however, said he saw a lot of “growth” within the squad and said the loss of a number of key players would ultimately benefit the Wallabies ahead of next year’s World Cup, which shapes as the most open in its history.
“Honestly, I look at the team and the players and the coaching staff and it’s been such a fascinating environment to be in.
“I feel like the team is in a great spot.
“We’ve faced a lot of adversity with injuries, your captain, Samu, myself, there’s a lot of guys that have had some injuries and things not necessarily go the way that we wanted to on the field.
“But, again, those are just things we’ll learn to deal with and, if you look at it from my perspective, there’s a lot of players who are going to be getting a lot of game time that may not have got some game time if the circumstances were different.
“So it’s a great thing for us moving into a World Cup, knowing that a lot of young guys are going to get opportunities.
“They might find something new that they didn’t even know they had by playing in Super Rugby, because until you get put in a position, in a situation, where something more is required of you then you start to figure that out for yourself as well.
“I look at some of the players who have had opportunities over the past few weeks and I’m just so happy for them, I’m so happy for the team.
“I don’t necessarily look at games nowadays and see the growth just because of the result of the game.”
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