Quade Cooper admitted he was “speechless” when Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie made him vice-captain for Saturday's Test with England.
Quade Cooper admitted he'd been rendered “speechless” when Australia coach Ewen McKenzie named him as vice-captain for the Wallabies' tour-opening Test against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
The talented fly-half was in international exile for nearly a year after accusing former Wallaby coach Robbie Deans of creating a “toxic” environment.
But following the New Zealander's departure after Australia's 2-1 series loss to the British and Irish Lions in July, Cooper found himself back in the Test fold under new boss McKenzie, previously his coach at the Reds and returned to the international scene as a replacement.
However, the 25-year-old New Zealand born playmaker has started Australia's last five Tests and this weekend Cooper will win his 46th cap as part of a new leadership duo, with number eight Ben Mowen replacing James Horwill as Wallaby captain.
“Being vice-captain is a great honour,” Cooper told reporters at Australia's London hotel following Thursday's team announcement.
“It's one of those things where you are a bit speechless, you don't really know what to say and you just accept it.”
Cooper admitted he feared the worst just before McKenzie told him about his new role.
“When you get the tap on the shoulder you are often looking to see if you are selected… To get the vice-captaincy next to your name is something I see as being pretty special.”
Cooper said being out of the Test side had helped him to re-assess his approach to rugby and life in general.
“If you can contribute to the right people on and off the field, away from the game how you act as a person, how you act as a family man, those things roll along into how you act as a player in and around the team because the team is pretty much an extended family,” he added.
“You've got to continue to work at that and not nod off and say 'I've made it this far and that's enough'.
“That's the same with our footy. We've got to continue to get better and strive for success,” Cooper said of an Australia side who've have won just three of their 10 Tests so far this year.
Asked if he feared he might never play another Test, Cooper replied: “We are all human, you always have those thoughts in the back of your head.
“I've got a pretty good life when you look at it. When you look at some other people's lives, sometimes they have a much harder life than you do. So you've got to look at what you have and be grateful for it.
“That's all I'm doing now, which is different to a few years ago.
“If you do the right thing, more often than not the right thing happens to you,” explained Cooper, who added playing for the Reds, where McKenzie made him captain against the Lions in a tour match, had given him “30 team-mates you have to do the right thing for”.
McKenzie, explaining Cooper's promotion, said: “I picked him as captain against the Lions but the one thing that hasn't changed all the time I've known him is his contribution to the game, his ability to call the game and manage what's going him on.
“I haven't chosen him in the past (for Tests) so it's more a reflection of where he's gone as a person.
“The last 12 months, I've seen him on that journey and I've noticed a difference. The guys here (in the Australia squad) have all made the same comments. For all those reasons, he's a good choice.”