Australia
All cool with Quade but Aussie skipper warns of Olympic fight
Sam Bruce
February 3, 2016
© Quade Cooper

Australia Sevens captain Ed Jenkins insists there is no resentment towards Wallabies recruit Quade Cooper, saying the old guard are prepared to fight for their Olympic dream.

Cooper arrived in Sydney on Wednesday morning and went straight to the Aussie Sevens' training base on the northern beaches, the enigmatic playmaker's presence drawing a media contingent the Wallabies would be proud of in a Bledisloe week.

The surge in the number of onlookers wasn't lost on Jenkins either nor the scope of a player he says has the X-factor Australia probably need to be a threat at the Rio Games.

But the veteran Aussie skipper is adamant Cooper won't be afforded favourable treatment and that his long-serving team-mates hold no ill-feeling towards their new training partner.

"I think it's great - if it's building the profile of the sport and its getting more attention then why not," Jenkins said of the recruitment of Cooper and fellow Wallabies back Henry Speight.

"We talk about these names all the time, but you know they haven't been selected for the Olympics yet -- we're still a long way out from that.

"So if they're going to bring more spotlight on the sport of Sevens then all well and good. I guess selection will happen prior to Rio."

Cooper will find out on Thursday whether he has made the 12-man squad that will compete in the inaugural Sydney Sevens but ESPN understands the prospect is now 50/50 at best.

Cooper was hoping to arrive earlier than Wednesday, but circumstances in Toulon meant he had virtually just the morning's outing to push his claims for selection.

Still, Jenkins said Cooper looked in good shape and that he possessed the skills Australia needed to join the likes of Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand as medal favourites for Rio.

"Yeah he's looking sharp - I mean the guy had probably flown straight from Paris to Sydney - I don't know what that is, it's probably a 20-hour flight - so to then hop of the plane, strap on the boots and then be trotting around with us, I thought he did really well," Jenkins said.

"Obviously he's got that X-factor and that's what you need in Sevens. I think if we can get him in that ball-playing position and guys can feed off him there; I think it does give us a lot of extra firepower in that position and I guess we'll just have to wait and see if he can bring it on the field."

The Aussies were eliminated at the quarter-final stage in Wellington last weekend, taking out the Plate as the fifth-place finishers.

The squad included a mixture of new and old blood, veteran playmaker and Australia's leading Sevens point-scorer, James Stannard, one of a few players to impress.

"I think it's too early to predict that, I think there is also other guys there that have been performing really well for a number of years," Jenkins said of the battle for Olympic places.

"So I think they're still going to be fighting for their spots and no-one is going to just lay down and surrender their spot to a Wallaby that's for sure.

"So I guess it's up to Friendy (Australia coach Andy Friend) when he names the squad for the Olympics whether he opts for experience or I guess guys that have got a lot of X-factor."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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