Quade Santini Cooper (born 5 April 1988) is a professional rugby union player and occasional boxer. Although a New Zealand citizen, he has represented Australia in rugby at international level. He is a former player for the Queensland Reds and the Melbourne Rebels in the Super Rugby competition in Australia. His preferred position is fly-half.
Quade Santini Cooper was born in Auckland, New Zealand on 5 April 1988. He has three sisters, Shavarn, Georgie, and Pania and two brothers, Reuben and Moses. As a one-year-old Cooper moved to Tokoroa and was raised by his mother and step-father, Ruhia and David Jones. He attended Forest View High School before moving to Brisbane, Australia in 2001, at 13-years-old. In Brisbane, Cooper attended Springwood State High School before being awarded a scholarship to Anglican Church Grammar School, where he excelled for their first-XV rugby union team from 2005 till 2006. In the first year of his ascendance, his team tied for the Queensland GPS Premiership with Brisbane State High School in 2005.
Cooper played in all the age-group rugby union and league sides in Waikato. He toured the United Kingdom as a first five-eighth or fullback with the Australian Schoolboys in 2005, alongside David Pocock and Lachie Turner. He rejoined the side in 2006, furthering his total caps to nine, which was the then equal schoolboy record. He also forced his way into the Reds' side as a teenager in 2006. Cooper was selected as a replacement against Japan at the National Stadium, Tokyo in November, winning 29–22.
Rugby union career
2007–09: Youth level and early international career
Cooper joined the ARU-funded high-performance program with the national talent squad, and signed with the Queensland Reds for the 2007 Super 14 season. At 18-years-old, Cooper made his debut appearance for the Reds in Round 2 of the competition, against the Crusaders at Jade Stadium, Christchurch. The Reds went on to lose the game by eleven points. Unfortunately, the franchise finished bottom of the table, having won just two of 13 games. It saw head coach Eddie Jones resign after an 89-point defeat by the Bulls. It was later unveiled Cooper would be the first five-eighth for one of the two Queensland teams, the East Coast Aces in the inaugural Australian Rugby Championship. The side was guided by former Samoa coach John Boe and Australian lock Garrick Morgan.
It was reported by The Sunday Mail early 2008 that the New Zealand Rugby Union showed interest and had held preliminary talks with Cooper's management team after he would be off contract at season's end with Queensland. It was understood the Hurricanes were in line for his signature, and including a possible defection to rugby league. Cooper was involved in a famous upset five-tries-to-one victory over the Bulls. Head coach Phil Mooney made six changes to the side that started against the Stormers the previous week, which earned Cooper's first start of the 2008 season. Cooper performed a try assist after a chip kick to Morgan Turinui in the 72nd minute, securing their first bonus-point victory in four years.
Cooper was amongst seven Super 14 players included in the Australian national under-20 side after coach Brian Melrose confirmed the team naming for the inaugural 2008 IRB Junior World Championships in June. Cooper impressed, coming third in most conversions converted behind Francois Brummer and Trent Renata of New Zealand. Australia had the youngest and heaviest squad in the tournament. After receiving age-grade honors, Cooper was later selected for Australia in their 2008 end-of-year tour campaign. He made is first international test debut against Italy, as a substitute back. Cooper scored a late try to help Australia to a victory over Italy in Padova, with eight minutes remaining. He made another further two replacement appearances against France and Wales before playing in the historic match against the Barbarian F.C. at Wembley Stadium. It marked the celebration of Australia winning the rugby gold medal at the 1908 London Olympics. Cooper was involved in a touchline fight between Federico Pucciariello after tussling into the advertising boards and needed to be separated by colleagues and verbally warned by referee Chris White.
National Rugby League clubs and NZRU officials came up unsuccessful in attempting to sign Cooper in 2009. The New Zealand Rugby Union showed interest in luring him back to New Zealand as they faced a possible loss of New Zealand international first five-eighth Dan Carter. Cooper instead re-signed with Australia and the Reds. After repeating another near bottom of the table finish, Cooper was one of just four players and the only member of the backline to appear in all thirteen matches during the Reds 2009 Super 14 campaign. He scored four tries, which was second only to Digby Ioane among the team's leading try-scorers. The season also saw the Reds suffer a historic seventh loss from seven matches away to the Highlanders, and was their 22nd loss in 23 visits to New Zealand since 1999.
Cooper gained his first test start, playing at second five-eighth, during the final test against Italy in Melbourne during the 2009 June series. He went on to feature eight times for Australia, starting all four tests on the Grand Slam tour from the second five-eighth position. Cooper stood out on tour and earned praise from former Welsh great Barry John after a victory over Wales at Millennium Stadium.
2010–12: Super Rugby championship and World Cup
Playing at Fly Half in the Wallabies' 1st Tri-Nations Series Test against South Africa, Cooper was yellow-carded during the game for a dangerous tackle on Morne Steyn. Later he was suspended from two Tests against New Zealand, the Bledisloe Cup clashes in Melbourne and Christchurch. He returned from suspension to face South Africa in Pretoria and Bloemfontein. He featured in the final Tri-Nations clash against the All Blacks in a 22–23 loss at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Cooper took part in all of the Wallabies' Spring Tour games, playing at flyhalf.
In 2011 Cooper signed with player agent Khoder Nasser. In 2011, the Queensland Reds won the inaugural Super Rugby title, with Cooper featuring prominently and kicking most of their goals.
Cooper played in all of the Wallabies' Tri-Nations games. When James O'Connor was suspended from the deciding Tri-Nations test at Suncorp Stadium against the All Blacks, Cooper took over the kicking duties in a 25–20 win, securing Australia's only Tri-Nations title since 2001 in the final edition of the competition.
Cooper was selected for the Wallabies for Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand. Starting all games at flyhalf, Cooper was booed by New Zealand crowds because he had earlier used his knee to smash the face of New Zealand captain Richie McCaw. Coach, Robbie Deans, through his experience with the judiciary. had been able to get him off, according to New Zealand media and coach, see ref 41 and 42. A fairer assessment is that Cooper was targeted by the New Zealand media and crowds and had a lacklustre series.
Cooper was selected for the third-place playoff at Eden Park against Wales. Cooper set up the opening try before succumbing to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury that later ruled him out of the opening rounds of the Reds' title defence in the 2012 Super Rugby season.
In mid-2012, while recovering from the knee injury, Cooper signed a three-year deal to stay with the Reds through to 2015. Cooper's return from the injury came in Round 13 of the 2012 Super Rugby season against the Lions.
In Round 18, Cooper was yellow-carded and placed on report for a high tackle on former Reds and current Wallabies teammate Berrick Barnes. Cooper was later given a one-week suspension, causing him to miss the elimination-final against the Sharks, which the Reds lost 17-30.
In December 2012, Cooper agreed to a two-year contract extension with the ARU.
2013–15: International return and going abroad
In 2013, Cooper played in all of the Reds' Super Rugby games. After the sacking of Deans as Wallabies coach and his replacement by former Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, Cooper made his first Wallabies appearance after a long absence in the first test of the 2013 Rugby Championship, coming off the bench for the final 20 minutes in a losing effort against the All Blacks. He featured in the starting 15 at flyhalf for the rest of the Rugby Championship.
In the Wallabies clash with the All Blacks at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on 19 October, Cooper six goals from six attempts, an additional drop goal, made three try-saving tackles and two line-breaks, and set up a try for teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper.
At the end of October, Cooper was named as vice-captain for the Cook Cup test against England. Under coach Ewen McKenzie he featured in all of the Wallabies' European autumn tour games.
On 7 March 2014, Cooper broke Elton Flatley's record of 629 points, as well as the all-time Queensland Red's point-scoring record in the Reds' 43–33 win over South Africa's Cheetahs at Suncorp Stadium.
On 5 May 2014, Cooper received his 100th Super Rugby cap for the Reds in a match against the Auckland Blues at Eden Park. On 17 May, he was ruled out for the rest of the Super Rugby season following a shoulder injury against the Melbourne Rebels in round 14. He later underwent shoulder and hip surgery. After recovering from his injury, Cooper was named in the Wallabies' 32-man squad for the third Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium.
On 21 April 2015, it was rumoured that Cooper had committed to a two-year deal with French Top 14 side Toulon. In July 2015 it was revealed that Cooper had turned down the deal and re-committed to the ARU in order to be part of the Rio 2016 sevens team.
On 3 November, Cooper was 'unveiled' to the media as a member of the RC Toulon roster for the 2015–16 season. Cooper apologised to the Toulon fanbase for "extended negotiations" allowing him to be released if called to the Australian Sevens team for the Olympics. Cooper joined former Wallaby teammates Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell, James O'Connor and Sales Ma'afu at the French club. In his debut against Montpellier, Cooper helped set up multiple tries.
2016–18: Sevens stint and dropped from Reds
Cooper joined the Australian 7s squad in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympic Games, commencing with the Sydney leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series. Cooper scored his first try in sevens for Australia on 6 March 2016 in the team's 36-7 win against England. However, Cooper was later dropped from the squad in May 2016. Cooper claimed he was dropped because he did not hold an Australian passport at the time as citizenship of a country is required to represent that country in an Olympics.
Cooper returned to the Queensland Reds for the 2017 Super Rugby season after a brief time away playing club rugby for Toulon and Rugby sevens for Australia in 2016. He played twelve of the fifteen 2017 Super Rugby games and scored seventy four points, playing as a first choice fly-half.
In late 2017 it was reported that Cooper was dropped by the Reds before the start of the 2018 season. It was revealed new head coach Brad Thorn told Cooper that "he was no longer part of his plans" for the franchise and would not be needed at training. It was suggested that Cooper would be playing club rugby for current club Souths. The Reds, under Thorn then signed two of Cooper's 2011 championship teammates flyhalf/fullback Jono Lance & utility back Ben Lucas. Meanwhile, Cooper spent the majority of 2018 playing for Souths, captaining the Queensland Premier Rugby side to a knockout semi-final in August 2018.
In 2018, Cooper and former Reds teammates Karmichael Hunt and James Slipper were named in a 36-man squad selection for NRC side Brisbane City.
2019–present: Melbourne Rebels and Kintetsu Liners
On 23 October, it was announced that Cooper had signed a one-year contract with the Melbourne Rebels. He then joined Kintetsu Liners in Japan ahead of the 2020 season.
In November 2012, Cooper announced he would box on the undercard of friend Sonny Bill Williams' bout on 8 February 2013. He fought as a cruiserweight against Muay Thai veteran Barry Dunnett, winning by first-round knockout.
On 29 January 2014, Cooper fought 40-year-old Warren Tresidder on the undercard of the Anthony Mundine bout in Brisbane. Tresidder had 25 years of cage fighting experience at the time. Cooper went on to win with a 4th-round TKO.
On 31 January 2015, Cooper was due to fight on the undercard of Sonny Bill Williams's bout against Chauncy Welliver. However, he was later forced to pull out.
Possible change to rugby league
Cooper grew up playing rugby league with Shaun Kenny-Dowall and even came close to joining the NRL's Melbourne Storm in 2008. In August 2010 Cooper was rumoured to be considering a switch to rugby league and playing for the Parramatta Eels in the 2011 NRL season. This would have meant Cooper sacrificing his Wallabies' position. A figure of $850,000 was speculated, and Parramatta reportedly offered Cooper $1.5 million over three years. The issue was resolved in September when Cooper signed a one-year deal with the Australian Rugby Union. He said, even though he found the Parramatta offer flattering, he still saw his future in rugby union. For 2011 he wanted to continue with the Reds, and hoped to continue with the Wallabies and represent Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
In December 2009, Cooper was charged with burglary after allegedly taking two laptops from a residence on the Gold Coast. The charges were withdrawn after mediation with complainants.
In August 2011, Cooper was accused of deliberately kneeing Richie McCaw in the face, after McCaw had targeted Cooper off the ball, at the 2011 Tri Nations test, but at the subsequent SANZAR judicial hearing in Brisbane the charge was dismissed.
In September, Cooper tweeted comments on the Wallabies set-up, which included criticising the defensive style and lack of player input under coach Robbie Deans, inadequate training and recovery facilities, and a "toxic environment". He also said he would not play for the Wallabies under those conditions. As a result, Cooper was fined a record $60,000 (of which $20,000 was a 2-year suspended sentence) and given a suspended three-match Wallabies ban. It was thought that the incident would prompt Cooper to abandon Australian rugby. However, he recommitted to the Reds and ARU.
In May 2016, Cooper stated that he had been dumped from the Australian Sevens team for the Olympic Games because he did not hold Australian citizenship. It was revealed that he had been travelling on a New Zealand passport while playing internationally for Australia.
Club rugby union
|2013||British and Irish Lions tour||1||1||0||1||0||0||2||0||0||0|
|East Coast Aces||2007||Australian Rugby Championship||8||3||1||0||0||0||5||25||0||0|
|Brisbane City||2014†||National Rugby Championship||3||2||0||13||0||0||39||66.67||0||0|
|2015–16||European Rugby Champions Cup||4||4||1||0||0||0||5||75||0||0|
International rugby union
Professional boxing record
|Professional record summary|
|3 fights||3 wins||0 losses|
|3||Win||3–0||Jack McInnes||TKO||2 (4), 2:39||3 February 2017||Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia|
|2||Win||2–0||Warren Tresidder||TKO||4 (4), 0:34||29 January 2014||Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Australia||Fought before 2014 Super Rugby season.|
|1||Win||1–0||Barry Dunnett||KO||1 (4), 2:59||8 February 2013||Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Australia||Professional debut|
Awards and recognitions
- 2005 Australian Schoolboys national rugby union team tour
- 2006 Australian Schoolboys national rugby union team tour
- 2007 Australia national under-19 rugby union team
- 2007 Queensland Reds rugby union team début
- 2008 Australia national rugby union team début
- Awards: 2010 Investec Bank Super 14 Australian player of the series.
- Australia's Greatest Athlete (season 3): series winner
- 2011 Super Rugby Champion
- 2011 Tri Nations Champion