Quade Cooper endures disastrous first game since controversial Rugby World Cup omission

Adam Kyriacou
Quade Cooper in action for Hanazono Kintetsu Liners.

Quade Cooper in action for Hanazono Kintetsu Liners.

Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper endured a nightmare first match of the season for Hanazono Kintetsu Liners in Japan Rugby League One as they were well beaten.

The disappointment of a 41-14 defeat to Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo on Saturday was compounded for the 35-year-old as he received a yellow card in the 11th minute.

The Black Rams would ease home thanks to tries from Nathan Hughes, Daisuke Nishikawa, Netani Vakayalia, Amato Fakatava, Isaac Lucas and Netani Vakayalia.

Cooper in Japan

Cooper joined Hanazono Kintetsu Liners ahead of the 2019/20 season along with former Wallabies team-mate Will Genia, with the duo arriving from the Reds.

This 2023/24 game, however, was 84-cap international Cooper’s first outing since he was controversially left out of Australia’s squad for the Rugby World Cup.

Then head coach Eddie Jones made the shock call to snub Cooper, Bernard Foley and Michael Hooper as he picked a young group of players for the tournament.

When asked to explain his thinking behind his decision, Jones said Cooper, Foley and Hooper were not the right role models for the 33-man squad he selected.

His omission led to Cooper avoiding calls from Jones, who’s since taken over as head coach of Japan for the second time after leading them from 2012 to 2015.

With Jones now with the Brave Blossoms, Cooper recently revealed he hadn’t given up hope of playing for his country again but will need to shine at club level.

Wallabies hope

“I ain’t retired… be interesting to see who the new coach will be,” Cooper wrote on a Facebook story in November.

“I enjoyed working with the young guns coming through not just as a mentor but as a competitor. But time will tell.”

Hanazono Kintetsu Liners are currently sitting second bottom in Division One of Japan’s domestic league, winning just one game from their opening four fixtures.

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