After weeks of silence, two Wallabies have aired their views on the controversy surrounding outspoken flyhalf Quade Cooper.
The Waratahs duo of Sekope Kepu and Drew Mitchell were unanimous in that no player is bigger than the team and said the ongoing saga between Cooper and the Australian Rugby Union, which has been dominating headlines in the Australian media, is casting Rugby Union in a bad light.
''I guess they're his problems and opinions, he's just voicing it himself, and if that was me I'd definitely deal with it in a different way,'' Kepu said. ''Hopefully they come to an agreement or some resolution about what's actually happening.''
Kepu said that in Kurtley Beale they have a capable replacement for the injured Cooper but refrained from saying whether the Wallabies needed the Reds playmaker.
''You've got a lot of depth and talent there in the 10 position,” he said.
“Kurtley's [Beale] come up and he had a good performance last week, bar the injuries [to the team] and what not. But that's a decision the ARU and [coach Robbie Deans] have got to make.''
Mitchell was more direct, intimating there would be life after Cooper if he decided to join good friend Sonny Bill Williams in Rugby League next year.
''I don't think anyone's bigger than the game, so in that sense if someone feels they can say whatever they like and feels like they are needed then I don't think there's anyone in any team, anywhere in the world, that is needed that much,'' he said.
''That's not to say we couldn't do with [Cooper], but the game will go on and the Wallabies will go on if Quade decided to move on.''
Kepu and Mitchell, like Cooper, are sidelined by injury and said it has been frustrating being confined to the training pitch during the team’s troublesome time in the Rugby Championship.
''At the end of the day, as an individual I've got to pull my weight and do the best that I can to fit the environment,'' Kepu said.
''It's representing your country, there's no greater honour than that and not being [with them] it's just like something is missing, and it just makes you more determined and hungry to want to get back in there because it's opportunities that you're missing … It's obviously put a bit of heat on the sport but we'll pull through it, definitely.''
Mitchell said Cooper’s tirade on Twitter only compounded the team’s problems.
''We're in a competitive environment, you just have to look at the publicity the A-League are getting at the moment, rugby league and AFL had their biggest weekends of the year and unfortunately the press about our game hasn't been particularly as positive as it could have been,'' Mitchell said.
''The results are things that the players themselves and the coaching staff can try to rectify as much as they can … I think mounting external pressure and distraction at unnecessary times, we could probably do without that.''
Kepu is targeting a return to action in the final Bledisloe Cup match in Brisbane on October 20 while Mitchell is hopeful of being selected for the end-of-year tour to Europe.