Australian Rugby
O'Neill rules out Cooper bidding war
Scrum.com
August 18, 2010
Quade Cooper fires a pass, Wallabies training, Victoria Barracks, Sydney, Australia, August 18, 2010
Quade Cooper gets on with training in Sydney on Wednesday © Getty Images
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ARU chief executive John O'Neill insists he won't pay "crazy money" to keep Quade Cooper in rugby union as speculation over the Wallabies fly-half's future continues.

O'Neill attended Wallabies training on Tuesday as he tries to convince Cooper to ignore a switch to rugby league with the Parramatta Eels and commit to the Wallabies for next year's World Cup and beyond.

Cooper, 22, is believed to be seriously considering a big-money deal to change codes although there have been suggestions he is trying to bump up the value of his new ARU deal by using the Eels as a bargaining tool.

If that's the case, he's up against a master negotiator in O'Neill, who refused to say Cooper was indispensable - a move which would put the advantage squarely in the Queensland Reds star's court. O'Neill did, however, admit that securing Cooper for the immediate future would be a major boost for the Wallabies.

"We're confident we can come to an arrangement with Quade that's in his best interests, not just financially but for him as a person and someone who can make an enormous mark on our game," O'Neill said.

"He is a very important and valuable part of the future of Australian rugby and particularly the Wallabies, but we won't be paying crazy money, it will be money that's appropriate for a player of his value."

O'Neill said the ARU wouldn't stretch themselves to match the Eels' offer, now believed to be around A$600,000 after earlier reports of as much as A$850,000, because it also has to find money for Cooper's young team-mates.

"Quade is one of a number of young players - James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale, David Pocock - who are vital to the next few years and we've got to be careful we don't create anomalies."

O'Neill wouldn't rule out offering Cooper a one-year deal to play in the 2011 World Cup, but said he would ideally sign on for three years, which would take him through to the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour. The ARU boss said he hoped to have Cooper's future sorted before the Wallabies depart for their South African tour on Friday.

"We would prefer three [years], perhaps two; but three would be a preference with World Cup 2011, British Lions [tour] 2013. If I was planning my career as a player, these two events are as good as they get. We would prefer three, but … nothing is in, nothing is out at this stage."

Meanwhile, Eels veteran second rower Nathan Hindmarsh talked up his club's chances of landing a Cooper coup. Hindmarsh said, "Apparanelty [we've got] a big chance. It's going to be interesting if we do get him, I think he'll fit in well at the club. He's a fine young talent."

Dual international Wendell Sailor said if Cooper does switch codes, he would be motivated more by the sporting challenge and not by money.

"You'd think he'd go to France if he wanted the money so I don't think that motivates him," Sailor said. "I think ARU need him to be their next pin-up boy."

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