Australia’s playmaking linchpin Quade Cooper has proclaimed that he is simply “enjoying the journey” as he fights to be ready for this year’s Rugby World Cup.
The 34-year-old ruptured his Achilles tendon in the opening game of the Rugby Championship last season, ruling him out for a lengthy period.
It was the pivot’s first – and ultimately only – Test of the year having missed the England series in July due to a minor calf issue.
Due to the severity of the Achilles problem, there are concerns that Cooper will miss the World Cup, but the experienced campaigner is only looking at the situation positively.
‘The better I act, the better the outcome’
“I have no doubts about coming back to rugby but for me, the process of this whole journey has been more about discipline and what I choose to work on as a person which is everyday things,” he said.
“The better and more disciplined around how I act, the better the outcome will be with this injury. I’m not at all worried about coming back and how well I’ll play, I’m just enjoying the journey so far.”
Cooper was in the international wilderness for four years after not seeing eye-to-eye with previous head coach Michael Cheika, but returned in 2021 under Dave Rennie.
The fly-half immediately impressed and helped turn the Wallabies’ fortunes around in that season’s Rugby Championship as they ended the tournament with four successive victories.
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He is seen as being key to Australia’s World Cup hopes and the playmaker is targeting a return in the 2023 annual southern hemisphere competition.
“Ideally, I’ll be playing some football in Japan for my for my club … and that will be the best possible outcome,” he said.
“If I’m able to do that, I’ll be in a place to be able to be selected for the (Rugby Championship) based on my performances there, but outside of that it’s all out of my hands.”
Australia’s difficult 2022
In the absence of Cooper, Rennie’s men endured a difficult year, winning just five of their 14 matches in 2022.
They suffered a plethora of injuries which contributed to their disappointing form, but the fly-half believes that the Wallabies could actually benefit from their struggles last season.
“Having some young guys who haven’t had a lot of opportunities to get their chance to show what they have, a lot of them stepped up and in preparation for a World Cup, you want to see as many guys as you can play,” he added.
“The goal is to win those games but the only way you get that experience is by allowing people the opportunity. There were some highs and lows but that’s footy.
“My focus is always on the process and how I can get myself better and give myself the best opportunity whenever I’m in the team to do the best I can.
“As we continue to build, we hope this team and being in camp now around the group, we just want to get better as a group and peak at the right time.”