Quade Cooper believes talk he should become the next Wallabies captain is a reflection of the hard work he’s put into his game over the last few months.
The Queensland Reds five-eighth is one of the names being touted as a replacement for Ben Mowen following the current Wallabies skipper’s decision to leave Australian rugby at the end of the 2014 season.
It’s a significant turnaround for Cooper, who was only brought back into the international fold by coach Ewen McKenzie last year after his falling out with predecessor Robbie Deans.
In September 2012, Cooper labelled the atmosphere under Deans “toxic” and said he would refuse to play if selected.
The No.10 subsequently found himself outside the Wallabies setup but within months of his recall was elevated to vice-captain when Mowen replaced James Horwill as skipper during the tour of Europe in November.
McKenzie’s side ended that tour with four straight victories as Cooper played a key role, his increased off-field leadership also not going unnoticed.
“It’s great to be spoken about in that light, guys throwing out my name as a possibility to be the Wallabies captain,” Cooper said on Thursday.
“Six months ago there’s no way that could have happened or been thrown in as a possibility.
“I know that the hard work is paying off but that’s where you’ve got to keep working hard, you can’t just stop because someone’s mentioned me as a possible Wallabies captain.
“Keep playing good footy and it’ll keep flowing from there.”
Cooper has now officially returned to pre-season training with the Reds although he’d already been seen at Ballymore for the past fortnight, combining his rugby commitments with preparations for a boxing bout in Brisbane on January 29.
But the Kiwi-born playmaker said part of his return to the top in rugby has been about his work ethic and he’s not going to stop that anytime soon.
“You’ve always got to keep working,” he said.
“I’ve come back knowing that I’ve been on an improved tour where the whole team played well.
“Being a vice-captain was a great honour but I just had to go out there and do the things that were asked of me and then away from the game work as hard as I can to set a good example to the guys around me.”