The Rugby Championship
ARU break silence on Cooper outburst
ESPN Staff
September 27, 2012
Australia's Quade Cooper issues some instruction, New Zealand v Australia, Rugby Championship, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, August 25, 2012
The Australian Rugby Union has written to fly-half Quade Cooper following his outburst on Twitter © Getty Images

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has written to Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper following his recent Twitter outburst.

The 24-year-old playmaker, currently sidelined with a knee injury, took to the micro-blogging site earlier this week to vent his frustration at the tactics employed by his side in their recent Rugby Championship matches. His tirade also includes reference to what he saw as "toxic environment" within the Wallabies set-up sparking rumours that he was poised to turn his back on the game in favour of rugby league.

The ARU issued a brief statement earlier today detailing their course of action but refused to divulge the contents of the letter or any likely disciplinary action they might take. "Australian Rugby Union has written to Quade Cooper in relation to social media comments," the statement read.

"However, ARU has no intention of conducting those discussions with Quade in the public arena. To that end, we will be making no further comment at this stage."

With Cooper sidelined, Kurtley Beale has been handed the No.10 shirt for Australia's latest Rugby Championship outing against South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday, playing outside his Rebels team-mate Nick Phipps.

Australia will be led for the fourth time by Western Force second row Nathan Sharpe, who makes the 110th appearance of his 11-year Test career and in doing so, Sharpe levels with Australia's premier former openside flanker George Smith, as the country's most capped forward.

The absence of the injured Cooper is the only change to the starting side from that which rallied from 13 points behind to beat Argentina 23-19 on the Gold Coast last time out.

Waratahs second rower Kane Douglas, who made an impressive Test debut against Argentina, has retained his place, with Sitaleki Timani falling short in his bid to return from a hamstring strain. He was ruled out after not entirely satisfying team medical staff following a rehabilitation run yesterday.

Reds second rower Rob Simmons comes in on a bench which features five forwards, while the evergreen Western Force halfback Brett Sheehan is one of two back reserves, alongside Anthony Fainga'a.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said that although this represents Beale's first time in the No.10 shirt at Test level, he had long been viewed as an option in the position.

"The [jersey] number might be new but his role within the game won't be," Deans said of his decision to hand Beale the reins. "Although his season hasn't been without challenge, Kurtley stepped up with his involvements on the Gold Coast, making a difference when he was on the field.

"He's brought that enthusiasm forward with him since we've been in South Africa, has worked hard on the training track, and is excited about the opportunity ahead. He has good memories from some of his experiences over here."

Deans also warned that Saturday's challenge at a ground where Australia has never won; would be the team's toughest yet. "They are proud men, and they don't lose at Loftus very often," Deans said of the Springboks.

"While they are coming off a tour which would have disappointed them, they were in both contests and will feel that they could have won on both occasions. That will only spur them on, as will the atmosphere which is always electric for Test matches in Pretoria.

"Discipline is always key, but there's no doubt about its importance when you play South Africa as they always have goal-kickers who can routinely kick goals anywhere on our side of halfway, or even from 60 metres at altitude in Francois's case."

Australia: Berrick Barnes; Dominic Shipperley, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane; Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps; Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota Nau, Ben Alexander, Kane Douglas, Nathan Sharpe, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Radike Samo

Replacements: Saia Fainga'a, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Scott Higginbotham, Liam Gill, Brett Sheehan, Anthony Fainga'a

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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