1 Nov 2014

Cooper aiming for Test start

2:11 pm on 1 November 2014

Fit again and hungry to win back his Wallabies Test spot, Quade Cooper is eager to unleash his trademark tricks against the Barbarians at Twickenham.

Wallabies player Quade Cooper.

Wallabies player Quade Cooper. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Wallabies have missed Cooper's flamboyant skill set for the best part of a year due to injuries, but he'll start at five-eighth in Sunday's European tour opener.

The 26-year-old knows he needs an impressive performance to put pressure on starting five-eighth Bernard Foley for the coming Tests, with new coach Michael Cheika indicating incumbent players are the frontrunners to face Wales next weekend.

"Everybody in this group is looking at winning spots, whether they're incumbents or guys who are coming back from injuries or those getting an opportunity to debut," Cooper said as Australia finalised preparations at Twickenham on Friday.

"Everybody wants to start and hammer down a spot but that comes only through hard work and guys making sure the overall focus is not on individual goals, but making sure this team is successful as a whole."

Cooper is likely to get the perfect platform to push his claims for a Test recall, with Barbarians encounters typically allowing for the expansive, attacking style of rugby he relishes.

The Queensland Reds star will play with his usual flair but said it was important Australia didn't stray too far from the physical "power game" Cheika wants them to embrace.

"Every week I'm looking to play my game which is to express myself and have a good time out there," Cooper said.

"This is a dream job. I love doing this and I'm never going to change my mindset going into a game.

"But at the same time we're looking at this game just like a Test match and want to impose ourselves ahead of a five-week tour."

Asked if he had any new tricks to show, Cooper said: "That's what people buy tickets for, to come to the game or watch on TV and hopefully we can deliver that."

Meanwhile, Cooper backed his close friend Kurtley Beale to learn from the text-messaging saga which has blighted Australian rugby in recent weeks.

"You've just got to go through the situation, take it for what it is and learn from it," Cooper said.

"Kurtley's going to continue to work as hard as he possibly can to get back into this team and I'm sure everybody can do their part to help him."

Cooper has rebuilt his own career following a string of off-field controversies and said his transformation came from wanting to be a better role model.

"I've got two little brothers who really look up to me and want to be rugby players when they grow up," he said.

"I knew that the example I was setting for them was the same example I was setting for hundreds of thousands of kids around the world. I knew I had to work hard to (better) portray that image."

Meanwhile, the Australian Rugby Union Chairman Michael Hawker says Beale's contract should have been torn up before an independent disciplinary process took the matter out of the Union's hands.

Beale was fined A$45,000 after the hearing last week for sending an offensive text to the Wallabies' business manager Di Patston in June, though a second message deemed more offensive by the ARU was not proved to have been sent from the player's phone.

"We felt the first text was inappropriate behaviour by an employee of the organisation and irrespective of what the second text said, the first text in our view was a warrant for us to basically say in our view, we should have his contract torn up," said Hawker.

"All that information went to the tribunal (who) came out with a finding, which was a fine and not tearing the contract up, and we have abided by that.

"We went through a process. We took it to an independent tribunal and we are required under that agreement, and we will honour that agreement, that we will keep him in the game."

The 25-year-old Beale was fined an additional $3,000 on Friday for an in-flight row last month with Patston over a t-shirt.

Beale, who has a litany of off-field indiscretions, is now free to play for the Wallabies again though it is unlikely he will be called into new coach Michael Cheika's squad for their end-of-season tour of Europe.

The utility back is out of contract at the end of the season and the ARU said that, after Friday's second fine, it would now reopen negotiations with him over a new deal.