Aussie 7’s coach throws support behind Quade Cooper signing
Australian Men’s Sevens coach Andy Friend has thrown his support behind new recruit Quade Cooper, the latest 15-a-side player to convert to the short form of the sport ahead of the Rio Olympics in August this year.
Cooper will be released by his French club Toulon for February’s Sydney 7’s, as well as the final two tournaments of the 2015-16 World Series in Paris and London, before joining the full time squad in Sydney in the lead up to the Olympics.
The later part of the deal will give Cooper close to three months to adapt to the style of Sevens ahead of the Olympics, however it is unclear what role he will play at the Sydney 7’s in just over two weeks time.
“What I know about Quade is when he’s playing 15 on 15, he finds space so if he plays seven on seven, it’s going to be pretty special,” Friend said.
“He has the rugby nous and the rugby ability to make a big difference on a sevens field.”
Speaking to World Rugby earlier this month, Friend said that he would consider any 15-a-side player that was willing to commit to the sevens program for at least “a couple of tournaments and then a 10-week block leading into Rio.”
He added, that it was vital that new recruits spent a substantial amount of time with the squad ahead of the Olympics to learn the sport properly.
“As we’re seeing with Sonny Bill Williams and Liam Messam with New Zealand and Francois Hougaard and Juan de Jong with South Africa and Henry Sleight with us, they have been given to the sevens programme to get them up to speed with what sevens is all about.
“You saw with Henry’s (Speight) play in Dubai that he is a very talented footballer, but it is a new game for him and he is going to need a couple more tournaments to get himself ready to play at the highest level.”
Wellington hosts the third leg of the 2015-16 World Series next weekend, ahead of the inaugural Sydney 7’s at Allianz Stadium on February 6-7.