Quade Cooper retires from squad, Dave Rennie, Noah Lolesio press conference
Dave Rennie says Quade Cooper felt ‘obligated’ to stay at his Japanese club, as Noah Lolesio responded to an SOS to join the Wallabies in the UK.
After a tumultuous week of behind-the-scenes trading, Cooper became the third Japan-based Wallaby after Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon to withdraw from November testing.
But a downhearted and frustrated Rennie didn’t artfully upset the situation by joining the club-against-country debate.
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“He’s his main employer, isn’t he,” Rennie told reporters on Thursday from Brighton, as the sun barely started to rise at 7am.
“Ideally we want guys who are desperate to be wallabies.
“I know Quade says he is, but he’s torn and I think if he had had the support of the club he would have come. But he did not do it.
The three players were named to the Wallabies spring tour team in early October despite their reservations about their participation.
They did so for a variety of reasons, not least because the Japanese Ligue 1 season begins in early January.
While the clubs finally gave their blessing to the trio, as they are required to do under World Rugby’s new regulations, they withdrew as it puts their contracts at risk, especially in the event of injury.
Rugby Australia’s own policies have changed since the Covid pandemic to allow Rennie’s Wallabies more freedom to choose players based abroad.
Still, the trio signed with their Japanese clubs – although Cooper was already qualified to play under the old law, but didn’t think he would be called up – on the pretext that they had given up on their international careers.
“I spoke to these boys on the Gold Coast (during the rugby championship),” Rennie said.
“They said they had concerns about their club and how their club would feel about their trip in November, towards the start of the season, but they all reassured me that they wanted to travel and for that reason , we negotiated with the club.
“They weren’t happy that it was just the new reg and that we were going to tell the club we were taking them, hence the multiple zoom meetings to try and resolve the issue.
“It took a bit of flexibility on both sides but in the end you saw the result.
“We’re really disappointed, but now we’re focusing on who’s here, not who isn’t. “
Rennie didn’t want to believe their relationship with the trio was over.
Instead, he artfully deflected, referring the matter to the Rugby Australia Board and saying they would think about how the relaxation of the laws worked.
“We will have discussions with the board, we will determine what this looks like going forward,” said Rennie.
“I can’t answer that at the moment.”
Sources said foxsports.com.au that Rugby Australia agrees that lessons will have been learned from last week, but they will likely keep the loosened laws up their sleeves.
In the meantime, Rennie has called up Lolesio, 21, who was overlooked for the spring tour despite leaving the first six tests of the year in the No.10 shirt, where James O’Connor will start against Scotland. November 8.
Rennie also said Kurtley Beale will join the squad after Racing92’s game against French champions Toulouse on Sunday night.
“Yeah, watch Kurtley come, we see him as a 15 who can play in other places, so we’re going to bring in Noah,” said Rennie, who initially left Lolesio to enjoy an off and loose season. up.
“If we had ‘Hodgey’ (Reece Hodge fit) here, we would have resisted that to try and get the off-season schedule that we wanted, so we’ll try to do both with him here.
“He played a lot of football with us, he understands our structures, he can integrate without problem, he trains every day, so his body is great and he is also enthusiastic.
“We’ll get him on a plane as soon as we can sort out the proper paperwork.” “
While last week seems like a total mess, the Japanese trio’s withdrawals, which followed Marika Koroibete’s a week earlier, may in fact turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
While Andrew Kellaway is in line to start at the back, the position has been problematic since the sorry departure of Israel Folau and Beale’s move to Paris last year and it will give Rennie the opportunity to see some first hand what the star of the 92-Test is. like under his watch.
“We’re lucky to have ‘Rabs’ (O’Connor) back now,” said Rennie.
“He has been training for a month and we know the quality he brings.
“I think Noah has learned a lot in the last period so I’m delighted to bring him in.
“We are fortunate to see Kurtley in our squad and understand how he would fit into our squad from a cultural and rugby perspective.”