Wallaby fly-half Quade Cooper has given axed team-mate James O'Connor encouragement to bounce back from his international exile.
Wallaby fly-half Quade Cooper has given team-mate James O'Connor his full backing to bounce back from his international exile for bad behaviour.
O'Connor was banished from the Australian squad in the wake of a string of recent off-field incidents, and cut from the roster of the Rebels.
25-year-old Reds number ten Cooper is no stranger to those similar troubled waters after describing the atmosphere inside the Wallaby camp as “toxic” a year ago, leading to him being left out of the squad by then coach Robbie Deans.
But the playmaker admits that his time away from the Test-match arena provided a chance to examine his own attitude, and start afresh.
“For me, when I was out of the Wallabies, it was a great opportunity for me to look at my attitude and things I was doing wrong that might have been impacting on the team and also myself personally,” Cooper said, speaking to ABC.
“When I look at his situation, if you can take any sort of positive out of it, it's a time for him to get things right in his life away from football that are going to contribute to the team.”
The Wallaby came to realise during his spell in the international wilderness that his mindset and behaviour had seriously negative implications for the squad.
“In my situation, it wasn't my behaviour, getting into trouble, and it was things I felt strongly about but I shouldn't have been acting that way towards the team with my attitude,” he said.
“You've got to think of the other players and people who put a lot of time and effort into it.”
Cooper feels the time out allowed him to build a platform from which to win back the trust and respect of his team-mates.
“I worked hard in my time away from the team so, when I came back, I was accepted by the other players,” said the pivot.
“This is his (O'Connor's) opportunity to do that if he's given the second chance that he may need.”
Though he had not been in contact with O'Connor, Cooper was hopeful that the outside back can overcome his problems and emulate his own return to the international game.
“From a selfish point of view, you want those players in the team but you also want what's best for them,” he said.
“It's all about him working on getting back to a good position and not just taking him for his rugby ability.
“If things get worked out, it would be great to welcome him back.”