A “torn” Quade Cooper became the latest player to pull out of the Wallabies European tour Thursday, opting to remain with his Japanese club and prepare for the domestic season.
The veteran fly-half, who was sensationally recalled for this year’s Rugby Championship after four years in the wilderness, had initially said he was keen to travel to Britain for Tests against England, Scotland and Wales.
But reservations from his club Kintetsu had left him weighing up the decision, and he ultimately chose to pull out, with Noah Lolesio set to jet over and replace him.
Cooper’s withdrawal followed powerhouse centre Samu Kerevi and back-rower Sean McMahon also opting to stay in Japan with Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath.
“He’s torn, he wants to be here, he wants to be a Wallaby, but he feels loyalty to his club,” Wallabies coach Dave Rennie told Australian reporters of Cooper.
“In the end, he has made a decision he feels is the right one. He’s made a decision that’s best for him.
“Ideally, we want guys that are desperate to be Wallabies. I know Quade says he is, but he’s torn. If he had the support of the club and the blessing of the club, he would have come, but he hasn’t.”
The Wallabies could have insisted on the release of Kerevi, McMahon and Cooper as the tour falls during an international Test window, but Rennie said the players did not want to put their clubs offside.
With Reece Hodge also out injured, Rennie confirmed that Kurtley Beale would be brought into the squad for the tour’s opening Test against Scotland on November 8.
“Kurtley will come in, we are looking more at Kurtley as a 15 who can play other spots,” said Rennie. “So we will bring Noah over (as playmaker).”
Beale, 32, played the last of his 92 Tests at the 2019 World Cup in Japan and is currently with French club Racing 92.