WALLABY STAR QUADE Cooper has pulled out of a big-money move to France to remain in Australian rugby, reports on Sunday said.
The Australian Rugby Union is set to confirm the Wallabies playmaker has signed a four-year deal to remain in the country, opting out of his lucrative contract with glamour French club Toulon, Fairfax Media reported.
The media outlet said an announcement was expected to be made on Monday confirming Cooper’s re-signing with the ARU, after his Queensland Reds team severed ties with him last month amid acrimonious contractual negotiations.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika gave nothing away to reporters on Sunday following his team’s last-gasp 24-20 win over South Africa in the Rugby Championship opener in Brisbane the previous night.
But Cheika has reportedly been a significant figure in the ARU’s talks with Cooper and his management and has repeatedly underlined the importance of keeping the skilful fly-half in Australian rugby.
“I haven’t been on top of it, I’ll be honest with you, this week, at all,” Cheika told reporters.
“With us helping him get to where he wants to go and become an even better player, we’re still yet to see the best of Quade Cooper.”
Cooper will reportedly devote all of next year to the Sevens Olympics programme, and then return to Super Rugby in 2017.
Australia’s Sevens team has yet to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
However, the report said the plan was for Cooper to probably join the national squad in the New Year and take part in a number of warm-up tournaments to prepare himself for the Olympic tournament, if the Australians qualify.
It was not clear how Cooper negotiated his exit with Toulon, the report said.
Cheika said Cooper did a “pretty nice job” against the Springboks but may yet shuffle his options for the remainder of the Rugby Championship with the likes of Matt Toomua, Matt Giteau and Kurtley Beale at his disposal.