Queensland Reds coach Nick Stiles believes Quade Cooper can regain his Wallabies jersey if he follows the same path as Karmichael Hunt and rebuilds his body over the coming months.
Stiles is adamant Cooper’s shock omission from Michael Cheika’s Rugby Championship squad last week is not the end of the road for the 29-year-old playmaker’s.
He believes Hunt, who made his Test debut in June at the age of 30, is the example that should give him hope.
Few gave the code-hopper a chance of ever playing Test rugby but after a strong pre-season with the Reds, he was finally able to overcome his niggling injury troubles and excelled at inside centre against Fiji, Scotland and Italy.
Stiles reckons Cooper needs to do the same.“I wouldn’t be writing him off at all,” Stiles told AAP.
“I look at it a bit like what we were able to do with Karmichael last year.
“You would have said 12 months ago Karmichael was at that same point in his career and you didn’t know if he’d come back from it.
“He was similar, he had a few years of season-on-season injuries and hadn’t worked on himself physically.
“Being able to give him four to six months to really get his body right allowed him to play his best football.“
Cooper’s Super Rugby season was hampered by a medial ligament injury and a foot problem, which Stiles said affected not only his kicking but his ability to practice kicking, as well as requiring reduced training loads.
Before he left the Reds in 2015 his ill-fated stint with French club Toulon he suffered a hip injury and battled a series of shoulder issues.
He was not reconsidered for Australian selection this week after Hunt (ankle) was ruled out of August’s Bledisloe Cup clashes through injury.
Cooper looked a shadow of the player he once was for the Reds this year and Stiles conceded his performances were wildly inconsistent.
“He’d be the first one to say that. He’s got very high expectations of himself and he wants to be the best,” Stiles said.
“He sees it now as an opportunity to really be able to work on those areas and get better.
“The thing I’ve always liked about Quade is he’s a top-end athlete, a competitor.
“Sometimes when you see those competitors put on those scrap heap, they fight.”
Holidaying in Bali, Cooper is due to return to training next week with Brisbane City before they kick off their National Rugby Championship season on September 2.