x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Quade Cooper's 'toxic' remark not an issue for Wallabies

Coach Robbie Deans denies any distraction ahead of Rugby Championship game against Springboks tomorrow.

Quade Cooper is reportedly unhappy with the environment in the Australia team. Chris Hyde / Getty Images
Quade Cooper is reportedly unhappy with the environment in the Australia team. Chris Hyde / Getty Images

Coach Robbie Deans said preparations for Australia's Rugby Championship showdown with South Africa tomorrow have not been derailed by the Quade Cooper affair.

Cooper is injured but claimed he would have refused to play in Pretoria anyway because the "toxic" environment in the Wallaby set-up is "destroying" him as a person and a player.

However, it has been reported in Australia that angry senior Wallabies believe Cooper's comments are disrespectful to those who will take the field at Loftus Versfeld.

And Deans indicated the row had served to strengthen the determination within the Wallaby camp to extend an unbeaten run against the Springboks to six Tests.

The Wallabies, who lie third in the table on seven points, one behind their opponents, will need that togetherness because they have never beaten South Africa at the high-altitude fortress of Loftus Versfeld.

"I don't think it's been a distraction at all, really," Deans said. "It certainly hasn't been evident. We've had a good week of prep and we're just concentrating on playing and hopefully doing well in a Test match. That's the priority."

Australia have bounced back from successive defeats to New Zealand with home wins over the Springboks and then Argentina, although they had to come from behind in both matches.

Deans has taken the bold move to replace Cooper with Kurtley Beale, who will make his first Test start at fly-half after 30 in the fullback jersey.

The Springboks have also made a change at fly-half, with Morne Steyn axed for 20-year-old Johan Goosen as one of four changes from the defeat to New Zealand last time out.

Andries Bekker and Eben Etzebeth both return at lock while Jaco Taute makes his debut at outside centre in place of the injured Francois Steyn.

In tomorrow's other match, world champions New Zealand head to La Plata to take on Argentina with fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez, saying the Pumas are not content with being nearly-men.

"We aim to win and that is our motivation for our last two games, they are a chance to show we can win."


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