Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper signed a one-year contract extension with the Australian Rugby Union that ties him to the national team and Queensland Reds through 2012.
Cooper, the leading points scorer in this year’s Super Rugby competition, said he pushed for a single-season deal to “keep myself on my toes and keep improving.” A short-term contract also enables him to keep his options open, he said.
“I never want to rest on my laurels,” Cooper, 23, said at a televised news conference. “Sometimes people get comfortable when they have a long-term deal because they know they’ve got money in the bank and can just sit back and relax. I don’t want to take that ride.”
Cooper established himself as the Wallabies’ attacking pivot last year, starting 13 of the team’s 15 Tests. The Sydney- based Australian Rugby Union has re-signed 17 Test players in 2011 as it seeks to maintain its playing stocks beyond the Sept. 9-Oct. 23 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Cooper’s retention comes a day after All Blacks playmaker Dan Carter signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union through 2015. Carter said he had been tempted by “significant offers” from overseas clubs before committing to his country.
His Australian counterpart had been considering a move to rugby league and said switching to the 13-man game he played as a junior remains “a genuine option” when he comes off contract in 2013.
“It wasn’t that long ago that I was playing rugby league,” Cooper said. “I’ll definitely keep those options open. If you get offered a job you’d be naive not to look into it.”
‘On the Edge’
Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie said the length of Cooper’s contract would enable the Super Rugby-leading Reds to maximize the talents of their playmaker and goal-kicker.
“I know how Quade thinks and living on the edge is how he plays the game and I’m not surprised that transfers into how he thinks about the contract situation,” McKenzie said. “The reality is we are getting the best out of him as a player, which is what we want.”
Cooper, who was voted the best Australian player of the 2010 Super 14, has scored 166 points in the southern hemisphere’s expanded provincial competition this year to help the Reds top the standings.
The majority of his 41 points in 24 Tests for the Wallabies have come from six tries.
“Quade delivers an X-Factor,” ARU Chief Executive Officer John O’Neill said in a statement. “He has that rare ability to excite an audience and have a defense on alert every time he touches the ball. I’m delighted we’ve extended Quade’s tenure beyond this year’s Rugby World Cup.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at firstname.lastname@example.org