Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Quade Cooper, right, has been superlative of late, but many coaches in Super Rugby do not think him worthy of selection by Australia when the Wallabies face the visiting British & Irish Lions.
Quade Cooper, right, has been superlative of late, but many coaches in Super Rugby do not think him worthy of selection by Australia when the Wallabies face the visiting British & Irish Lions.

Personnel leak vexes Robbie Deans and Australia ahead of British & Irish Lions tour

A leaked questionnaire Robbie Deans had sent coaches in the Super Rugby league causes tension ahead of the announcement of Australia's team for the British & Irish Lions tour next month.

BRISBANE, Australia // Three days before Australian rugby officials will announce their team to face the British & Irish Lions in a three-Test series, the big question is who leaked a confidential memo outlining which players should be included.

According to reports, most Super Rugby coaches in Australia did not think Quade Cooper would make the grade for the Wallabies when they were surveyed a month ago, while another declined to answer a selection questionnaire from national head coach Robbie Deans.

Only Deans knew the results, and as usual, kept the details close to his chest.

Now it is public information after an email that Deans sent to the five provincial coaches with a squad based on the collated responses was leaked and published in a newspaper.

The result, only a few days before the 25-man squad is announced on Sunday, is anger among the coaches, mystification by the fans and speculation from the national daily newspaper that it was a deliberate leak to soften the fallout for selectors if Cooper and blockbusting New South Wales fullback Israel Folau miss initial selection.

The Australian Rugby Union has denied the information was leaked from the administrative end.

Both Cooper and Folau, in his first year in professional rugby union, have been in outstanding form in the past few weeks for the Reds and Waratahs, respectively, certainly putting themselves in the frame for selection. The leaked email imbroglio has certainly added some intrigue to the selection for what is a once-in-a-career series for the Australians - the Lions visit only every 12 years - with Cooper on the outside since being fined for speaking out about a "toxic environment" in the Wallabies set-up last year and a below-par performance at the 2011 World Cup.

Western Force coach Michael Foley thinks the email leak could be an unwelcome distraction for players ahead of the Lions series.

Foley, who played for the Wallabies against the Lions on their last Australia tour in 2001, was among the four Super Rugby coaches who did put forward their suggestions for the national squad to Deans.

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika was the only one who declined, according to reports.

"I feel more for the players that have to read that sort of thing in the media, and then try to second-guess things, when all they should be thinking about right now is how they're going to play," Foley said in Perth yesterday. "I've been on the other side of the fence as a player, aspiring to try to make a Lions series, which is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

"I think this sort of media speculation on the eve of the squad being announced could be a potential distraction."

Foley has coached in Europe and at New South Wales before moving to the Force this season.

He said he would not be deterred from giving the Wallabies coach his input in future.

"I think the dialogue between the national head coach and the head coaches of the states should be open," Foley said. "That dialogue is extremely important and wouldn't make me reluctant in the future.

"We just move on. I don't know if a witch hunt helps anybody, but I would like to know where [the leak] came from."

Other Australian teams have been distracted by internal correspondence getting into the public domain. Former Australia cricket coach John Buchanan created a stir when he accidentally slipped plans targeting the New Zealand team under the wrong door at the team hotel in 2000.

The cricket team was embarrassed again a dozen years later when a secret dossier compiled ahead of the South Africa series was published in newspapers.

The Australians joked about the merits of the report, but lost the three-Test series 1-0.

The leak in rugby has not been a laughing matter for coaches or players. The national news agency published a story yesterday leading with the question: Who leaked the email?

Without identifying them, it quoted coaches as saying the leak was "poor form" and "to read it in the paper verbatim is frustrating".

Another of the coaches told The Australian newspaper that he would question in future whether he should cooperate, adding: "We followed the process in good faith. Would you do it again? I'm not sure."

* Associated Press

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Yuvraj Singh, left, and Virat Kohli of Royal Challengers Bangalore celebrating after they won their IPL match against Delhi Daredevils at Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 action at Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s power-hitters laid down a marker at the first opportunity in IPL 2014 as they cruised past a hapless Delhi Daredevils with eight wickets, 20 deliveries, and about three more gears to spare in front of a packed house at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Thursday, April 17, 2014.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.

 Chris Burch will play fly-half as part of a new-look back line for the UAE national rugby union team that will face Singapore at The Sevens grounds in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

Chris Burch to lead UAE’s charge against Singapore

he UAE’s bid to safeguard their place in the second tier of Asian rugby against Singapore next week will be piloted by a player who was contemplating retirement from the sport at this time last year.

 Opening performance during Day 3 of the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the First Gulf Bank Arena at Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi. Mona Al-Marzooqi/ The National

In pictures: Day 3 of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship

All the action from Day 3 of the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the First Gulf Bank Arena at Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi.

 Atletico Madrid's Cristian Rodriguez, second left, celebrates his goal with team mates, and coach Diego Simeone, third right. Atletico are on the cusp of a Primer Liga title. AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

Atletico Madrid look to edge towards Primera Liga title before Chelsea visit

Diego Simeone's men need to win just four of their five remaining games to seal the Primera Liga championship and they take on Elche before the first leg of their Uefa Champions League semi-final against Chelsea on Tuesday.

 Jorginho accepts the challenge that lies ahead for Al Wasl's improvement, and the club says it will give him time ... if they see results.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Wasl will give Jorginho time but results in Arabian Gulf League are needed

Al Wasl officials said they will provide Jorginho, their new coach, sufficient time to change the club’s fortunes while also warning that his fate ultimately will depend on results.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National