Quade Cooper's star sure to fade from view

PETER FITZSIMONS
Last updated 14:05 20/11/2012
BIG CALL: Quade Cooper has reportedly quit Australian rugby.
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BURN OUT: Quade Cooper's rugby career shone brightly but briefly.

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OPINION: What then, when the days grow cold and we grow old, will we say of Quade Cooper?

Quade Who?

Yes, sadly, you're right.

Whether Cooper will be remembered at all, is a moot point.

Personally, it would amaze me if his fragile brand of brilliance translates well to rugby league - can anyone see him stopping Paul Gallen on the boil? - and I am even more fearful for him in trying to pay the rent on his boxing skills. (Seriously, who came up with that idea?)

No, from this point, the most likely fate for Cooper is to send a sizzle reel of his "season-to-end-reason," 2010, to Japan or the like, pick up a lucrative contract there and relatively quickly fade from view.

Still, what a season that was! And what a strange lead-in ...

He first came to the attention of the wider rugby community when he came off the bench for the Wallabies against Italy in 2008, and scored a breath-taking try with his first touch of the ball.

We then had the bewildering episode a year later of him being charged by police with stealing two lap-tops, only for the charges to be withdrawn, after "completion of a justice mediation process with the complainants."

It was the first sign of a lack of character, and was not the stuff that Wallabies were made of, and yet in that subsequent 2010 season, Cooper was brilliant from first to last.

Back in his day, David Campese could send a bolt of electricity through every chair in the stadium, every time he touched the ball, and for a short, glorious time, Cooper was like that.

The following year he guided Queensland to its Super Rugby Championship he could do things with the ball and pull off sidesteps which put him in space that we had not seen before - at least not coming from the one man.

But could he cope with the pressures that come from being for a brief time the most exciting player in world rugby? Decidedly, no.

From the World Cup in 2011 on, his life has been a litany of injuries, terrible form and ever more bizarre and wounding public comments - with all the wounds showing up on his own career and reputation.

Look, none of us will ever know how devastating it would be to find yourself, in the land of your birth - New Zealand - being hooted and booed by 50,000 people as you took the field in a World Cup semifinal playing against the All Blacks, but from the moment he put his opening kick-off of that match out on the full, it was obvious that Cooper could not master the situation.

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A devastating knee injury in his next game provided the full-stop to a very ordinary year, while 2012 was not much more than an ellipsis.

What little we have seen of Cooper on the field this year has shown a player no more than a shadow of what he was in 2010, and all of his headlines have come from the "toxic" tweets, and all the rest. It is all rather sad.

Sometime, somewhere, someone needed to sit him down and say, "Quade, you have more raw talent in your little finger than most players have in their whole bodies, but, in the end that is not enough. You have to get a grip, my man, settle down, train hard, work on developing your game and every time you feel like having a whinge, do a hundred sit-ups and a hundred push-ups until the urge passes."

That appears not to have happened.

So what will we say? I think it will be something like this:

On his day, Quade Cooper was a breathtakingly brilliant player, a streak of light across the sky in an otherwise fairly dull rugby night. The pity is he could not have shone stronger for longer.

Good luck, Quade.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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