Robbie Deans choice to bypass Cooper proves puzzling
WHILE it was not that surprising, Quade Cooper's omission from the preliminary Wallaby squad to take on the British and Irish Lions, was still puzzling.
Ever since Cooper was not invited to the Wallaby logistics camp earlier this year, Wallaby selection was a long shot.
From what we keep hearing from Australian coach Robbie Deans, Cooper needs to improve his defence in the front line, and dominate in attack.
While the Reds No.10 had a slow first couple of weeks in Super Rugby, I'd say he has more than improved in both areas.
For the majority of time in recent matches, and all of last Saturday's game against the Cheetahs, Cooper was up in the front line.
So the line taken by Deans detracts from our opinion of him as a coach.
And then for Deans to come out on Monday and accuse Cooper of playing the primary role in the decline in form of fellow Reds back, Ben Tapuai, well, that is beyond belief.
It simply is not true (there would be manifold reasons behind Ben Tapuai's drop in form), and is the most damning comment you can say to a player.
It's the ultimate insult, and, for mine, represents a deeper rationale for Cooper missing the British and Irish Lions' series.
I'm taking nothing away from the other fly-half options - Christian Lealiifano, Bernard Foley, James O'Connor, and Berrick Barnes - but it's perplexing why Cooper is not in the preliminary squad.
It's hard not to think two things in regard to his non-selection.
One, Cooper is still paying for his negative remarks (along the lines of the Wallaby environment is toxic) offered towards the end of last year.
And two, Robbie Deans has a set way he wants the Wallabies to play against the Lions, and has moved on from Cooper as an option at fly-half to play his part in that style.
I don't think it's personal. I think it's more to do with Deans' approach to the the series.
And I don't think it's an expansive approach.
Deans believes winning the British and Irish Lions series will take conservative, methodical attack and strong defence.
And he thinks, rightly or wrongly, there are better options in Australian rugby at the moment.
Time will tell.