Australia international Quade Cooper will not play in the HSBC Sydney Sevens but it’s hoped it’ll be short-term pain for long-term gain.
Cooper’s availability was always going to be in doubt once he was called up to play for Toulon against Stade Francais, leaving him just one training session to prepare for his Sevens debut.
With the risk of injury, coaches Scott Bowen and Andy Friend opted to make Cooper wait for his debut but on Wednesday emphasised the importance of Cooper building a relationship with the players.
Australia could do with a dose of the enigmatic Cooper and his draw card ability is clear, with his first training session drawing the biggest Sevens media crowd of the year.
While that marketing value would be of benefit for the Sydney 7s, the risk of throwing an inexperienced player into the game was ultimately deemed too much.
More than that, though, Cooper’s limited preparation and potential inclusion would have displaced an incumbent.
Australia’s Sevens players have voiced their determination to make competition tough for any Olympics latecomers and Cooper’s late arrival was the first test of this.
Cooper was adamant on Wednesday that his non-inclusion wouldn’t spell awaited round trip for the 27-year-old.
New Sevens coach Friend said: “Quade’s got to earn the right too.”
“Just because it’s Quade Cooper doesn’t mean he gets a walk in start. He’s got to come in and add value to the team, I think that’s important,” added Friend.
“There is no doubt in my mind that he will be a tremendous addition to the squad as we build towards Rio. Due to circumstances which were beyond Quade’s control, and our control, he just couldn’t get enough work in this week with the team.”