Austrailan Rugby
ARU hits back at Quade Cooper
ESPN Staff
September 28, 2012
An injured Quade Cooper acknowledges the Eden Park crowd, Rugby World Cup, Australia v Wales, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, October 21, 2011
Quade Cooper's Wallabies' future is uncertain © Getty Images

The Australian Rugby Union's John O'Neill admits that he was left "utterly confused" after Quade Cooper's latest outburst.

Cooper has been highly critical of the ARU and the Wallabies in recent times and labelled the environment in the national side "toxic" earlier this week. The fly-half is currently sidelined with a knee injury but this has not stopped him hitting out on his Twitter account and in the press.

The fly-half's future is shrouded in doubt despite the Reds' assertion yesterday that Cooper will stay in Queensland next year. He has been strongly linked with a switch to rugby league to play alongside friend Sonny Bill Williams and he reiterated this while speaking on Fox Sports in Australia.

It was on that television channel where Cooper aired his latest grievances about the ARU and said that he would not play for the Wallabies at the present time.

''I'm just striving to be the best that I can be, and that's why I said I didn't want to be involved in that kind of environment,'' Cooper told Fox Sports' The Rugby Club. ''For me to continue to improve as a player and as a person you want to be in the best possible environment, and I feel that that environment is destroying me as a person and as a player, so that I can't do the best that I can do to represent my country and my family and my friends, to the best of my ability.''

It was this claim that has prompted the ARU's O'Neill to hit back. "In light of Quade's interview last night, we feel compelled to respond because he has moved beyond his comments of the weekend," O'Neill said in a statement. "Much of what was said on The Rugby Club has left us utterly confused.

"Quade wants more of a say in the game plan, he wants to play his style of game. He certainly made that clear. Yet he also said he could adapt if required. He talks of an unhappy environment without elaborating.

"He uses the word toxic - an extremely strong descriptor. However, when pressed on the issues he turned to facilities and the Wallabies not having a dedicated place to train.

"We've never had these concerns raised previously. The fact is the Wallabies are a national team. They train, stay and play in cities all around the country and overseas. The Australian cricket team and the Socceroos, same thing. Suggesting the Wallabies are under resourced has equally come out of the blue.

"Most disturbingly, he was firm about not playing for the Wallabies unless things change. If that is how he feels, then that is his choice. The reality is a decision on whether or not he stays in Australian Rugby has to this point rested with him since he received an ARU offer in early July."

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