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Australia
Cooper wants Rio policy change
ESPN Staff
January 25, 2014
Cooper wants to go the Olympic Games © PA Photos
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Quade Cooper wants the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) to follow the example of New Zealand and change the selection criteria for Sevens at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Australia have a policy which guarantees its top Test stars will not be able to participate in Brazil - insisting that only players who commit to a full season in the Australian Sevens squad can be considered for selection for Rio. It is a direct contrast to the policy of New Zealand, who have been able to lure players like Sonny Billy Williams and Benji Williams from rugby league with the promise that any player will be eligible for Olympic selection.

Cooper believes the ARU are missing a trick, and feels it is unfair to deprive players deserving a spot at the Olympics a chance by imposing unrealistic expectations on where they should play.

"The Olympic Games is something which goes beyond a lot of the rules and guidelines which you see in place across the different professional sporting codes and competitions," Cooper told the Australian.

"It is a real privilege rugby has been afforded and I think it is wrong to have any professional code using that privilege to force athletes into playing in one particular place.

"If we are serious about putting our best team on the park . . . we need to be looking at Aussie players, no matter where they are playing."

Cooper has excelled on the Test scene since his return to international duty but his speed, agility and footwork would undoubtedly make him a lethal weapon in Sevens. But it is a man who he plays alongside in green and gold who he can't imagine Australia going to Rio without, based on the last time he played Sevens alongside Wallaby team-mate Will Genia.

"I remember the last time I played Sevens was with the Reds when I was 20 or 21, during pre-season training there was a tournament on the Gold Coast," Cooper said.

"Will Genia was out of this world. Seriously, you cannot have a Sevens team which is representing Australia without him. The same goes for Izzy Folau and Digby [Ioane], Kurtley Beale and even Michael Hooper.

"These guys are among the best athletes, not just in this country, but in world rugby and they deserve the right to at least be considered for a spot in that side.

"Put those names together in a team and not only would you have a team which would take some beating but you'd have a team which people would get behind and support."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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