Quade Cooper to test the market - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Quade Cooper to test the market

By Jim Morton 19/05/2011 04:48:22 PM Comments (0)

A one-year contract extension has opened the door for X-factor Quade Cooper to combine with good friend Sonny Bill Williams in 2013, but the Queensland Reds are confident it will lure them James O'Connor next year.

Cooper on Thursday confirmed he would play on with the Wallabies beyond spring's World Cup in New Zealand but the single-season deal almost certainly ensures his asking price will rise next year.

The 24-Test playmaker and Australia's Super Rugby player of 2010 had received NRL interest, as well as lucrative offers from European rugby clubs, and was happy to admit a code switch or overseas stint would be "genuine options" in 2012.

But Cooper stressed his second consecutive one-year Australian Rugby Union contract was designed to challenge himself and back his ability to improve with the table-topping Reds.

"It's a way for me to keep on my toes and keep improving and I never want to rest on my laurels," the 23-year-old said.

"Sometimes people get comfortable when they have a long-term deal because they know they have money in the bank and they can just sit back and relax.

"I don't want to take that ride. I want to keep testing myself."

The philosophy is in stark contrast to Dan Carter, who has signed a new four-year deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union, but the All Blacks maestro is six years older at 29.

Rather than be dissatisfied his star five-eighth would test the market again in 2012, Reds coach Ewen McKenzie admired Cooper for his confidence and enthusiasm for pushing the boundaries.

"I'm actually not surprised," McKenzie said.

"Living on the edge, that's how he plays the game, and I'm not surprised that transfers into how he thinks about the contract situation.

"There's more work in that (for Queensland and Australia) but the reality is we're getting the best out of him as a player and that's what you want."

Cooper handled his contract negotiations with the ARU himself. His agent Khoder Nasser, who also has Williams and Anthony Mundine in his management stable, is not accredited by the Rugby Union Players Association.

Williams also comes off contract with the NZRU and Crusaders next year and Nasser - a quiet spectator at Cooper's Thursday morning media conference at Ballymore - is understood to be keen to offer up the two superstars as a package deal.

"It's obviously a good option to have," said Cooper.

"Sonny is one of the best players and best centres in world rugby at the moment. A player like myself would love to play with a player like that.

"It's pretty far away in my mind at the moment but it's something to think about and we'll see down the track."

The attraction of teaming up with close mate O'Connor in a talent-laden Reds backline next season is on Cooper's mind, though, and he hopes the Western Force star will next week decide to join him in 2012.

McKenzie went further, saying Cooper's new deal on top of their Super Rugby success would no doubt aid Queensland's desire to lure the Gold Coast-bred O'Connor back home.

"I'm confident," the coach said.

"All the discussions we've had have been around a rugby-oriented decision and I think we can offer a fair bit in that space.

"I think Quade putting his hand up isn't going to do us any harm either."

Renowned as a freakishly-gifted talent who could produce the most skilful and audacious plays seen in Super Rugby, Cooper's work ethic was highlighted by McKenzie.

"No one works harder than Quade and his rise in world rugby hasn't come by accident," he said.

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