Cooper backed despite patchy Sevens start

Date published: March 7 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 06: Quade Cooper of Australia looks up before kicking the conversion after a penalty try against South Africa during a semi final match at the USA Sevens Rugby tournament at Sam Boyd Stadium on March 6, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Australian Sevens coach Andy Friend has praised Quade Cooper’s debut at the Las Vegas Sevens this past weekend, but says the star recruit still has a lot to learn.

Australia went down 21-15 in the final to Fiji, who came back from a 15-0 half time deficit to score 21 unanswered points in the second half.

Cooper had a few stand-out moments and a try looked to be in the cards with three minutes on the clock, but a handling error by the 27-year-old lead to a 110-metre match-winning try by the Fijians.

The Sevens newbie downed Australia’s hopes of a Vegas title in the last minute when he threw a forward pass, with the defeat placing Friend’s men in the second place again after their runners-up ending at the Sydney Sevens last month.

Despite Cooper’s fumbles, Friend is keen on giving him another opportunity at the Canada Sevens in Vancouver this weekend.

“He’s new to the game and he’ll get a lot out of that. I saw some glimpses of some really good stuff, but also some areas that just showed that he hasn’t played the game of Sevens before,” Friend told the Sydney Morning Herald.

He’s a quality footballer and he’s a very good person. He’s blended into the group nicely and he’s also hurting badly from that [loss] and he’ll get better from that experience. “It’ll be great to give him another opportunity for him and for us.” 

Friend believes Australia were the best outfit in the competition despite their second place finish, and said that the weather conditions also made it tough for them in the final as they missed a conversion in windy conditions.

He said: “It was ridiculous. We were on the back field trying to warm up and there was a sandstorm going on. Balls were blowing away 50 metres. You literally couldn’t pass. It was probably some of the worst conditions I’ve ever been involved with.

“When we came off the field, one of the boys said: ‘We’re the best team here’ and he’s right, I think they were the best team this weekend, but we obviously didn’t finish with the result we wanted.

“We’ve still got some learning to do and some things to tidy up and we’ve got to be able to get into those big moments and finish it off.” 

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