Cheika keen to hold on to Cooper

Date published: November 3 2015

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is determined for fly-half Quade Cooper to continue playing in Australia despite the playmaker's impending move to Toulon.

Cooper signed a two-year contract with the European champions earlier this year but tried to back out of the deal.

The 27-year-old wants to sign a new deal with Australian rugby in order to represent his country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Toulon, however, are adamant that Cooper has signed a deal with them and are keen to unveil him. Cooper has represented Australia in 58 Tests, two short of the 60-Test benchmark which will allow him to ply his trade overseas without affecting his eligibility to play for the Wallabies.

He only played during the Wallabies' pool match against Uruguay at the World Cup. He also featured as an unused replacement in Australia's narrow quarter-final win over Scotland.

Cheika said he did not take notice of the implications of Cooper not making it to the 60-Test mark, but made a strong case for keeping the player in Australian rugby. 

"You can't be playing with that type of stuff, that's not what [the rule change on Test availability] is designed for," Cheika told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"But we'll be doing everything we can to keep Quade playing in Australia.

"They're private discussions at this stage. We'll see how we go."

Despite his little game-time at the World Cup, Cooper appeared happy inside the Wallabies camp and Cheika believes he can still be an asset in Australia.

"I want him to be playing here, he's a great player, he's been outstanding on this trip, his attitude and his contribution to the team, off the field, has been outstanding, and on the field when he's played, and on the training paddock," Cheika said after the Wallabies lost to New Zealand in the World Cup final. 

"Even with his own disappointment over not getting selected he's been outstanding and I want players like that involved with the team at all costs."