Toulon dent Cooper’s Sevens hopes

Date published: January 27 2016

Australian Sevens captain Ed Jenkins revealed it will be a tall order for Toulon playmaker Quade Cooper to force his way into the squad.

The Wallaby pivot's skill in attack could prove useful in the shorter format, but one has to be strong on defence as well.

Cooper's issue is that he will have a very limited period to prove himself in the Sevens arena before the Olympics in August.

Responsibilities with Toulon have set him back, as Cooper was meant to be training with the Australian squad this week in Wellington in order to play a part in the Sydney Sevens on February 6-7.

However, injuries to Matt Giteau and Frederic Michalak have forced Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal's hand and Cooper will start for the French club this weekend.

Added to that, the former Reds fly-half has hardly endeared himself to the Toulon cause, with his delayed arrival coming under the threat of legal action from the European giants.

The sum of it all is that Cooper will only play in three World Series events and join the Australian squad full time after the Top 14 final in June. In contrast, New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams has committed to eight events. 

"Everyone knows he obviously has the X-factor and is a game-changer in that aspect, but you know… three tournaments, it is going to be tough," Jenkins told Fox Sports.

"There are obviously guys here who have been training for a few years that do have that game experience under their belt.

"At the end of the day it is just going to come down to the coach and which direction he wants to go. Three tournaments isn't a great amount but if Quade can prove himself with this first tournament in Sydney he can build on that for the other two, and then he will have a bit of a lead-up into Rio training with us full time. But it would be a tough ask for any player."

Jenkins used 15s converts Henry Spieght and Nick Cummins as examples of how tricky it is to pick up the subtleties of Sevens play.

"The more time they can spend here training with us, it will make it a lot easier for them," added Australia's most capped Sevens player.

"We have had 'Speighty' in for quite a while now and he is slowly picking it up. But he was the first to admit he struggled in that first tournament. It is a completely different mentality to getting up for one game and having a week to prepare for that one game.

"You have six games you have to back up for, one after another. So the mental aspect is completely new, so I think the more game time these 15s guys can get prior to the Olympics will be beneficial."