Quade Cooper will still be with the Reds and the Wallabies when the Lions come calling next summer says his Super Rugby boss.
The controversial playmaker made headlines for all the wrong reasons this week when he criticised his country’s supposedly conservative playing style and then spoke of a ‘toxic environment’ within the Wallaby camp.
The latest outburst from a player who still divides opinions on both sides of the equator heightened rumours that the 24-year-old may walk away from the Wallabies before next season.
Cooper signed a new three-year deal with the Reds as recently as June but the paperwork has yet to be ratified as his Australian Rugby Union contract, which includes a top-up of payments for national representation, has not been finalised.
Cooper himself has since spoken of his desire to play alongside All Black centre Sonny Bill Williams – who is expected to return to rugby league next year – but the Aussie maverick did insist he had no immediate plans to switch codes.
Reds CEO Jim Carmichael publicly rebuked Cooper for his comments on the international set up but has now stated that New Zealand-born fly-half will not be leaving the 2011 Super XV Champions in the near future.
"I go on the record as saying Quade Cooper has no interest in leaving the Reds," Carmichael said after meeting his marquee player for coffee in Brisbane.
"It is no secret that Quade is disillusioned at the moment. He's a highly competitive rugby union player who wants to help his province and his country to be the best, and I can understand this.
"We are working closely with him to deal with his frustrations. Quade is aware that we as a governing body are working on a range of issues relating to this. We are working with all of the stake-holders in the game, including the ARU, for a good outcome for rugby.
"Quade loves playing for Queensland and his country and he has reaffirmed his commitment on several occasions. Call me old-fashioned but I take him at his word."
As for Cooper’s future with the Wallabies, head coach Robbie Deans insisted he would not be made an outcast when he returns from a minor knee injury.
With the Wallabies preparing to face the Springboks in Pretoria on Saturday, Deans would not be drawn into a detailed discussion on Cooper’s future but he made it clear that what has been said would be considered water under the bridge.
When asked if he could see Cooper being 'welcomed back' into the Wallabies camp, Deans simply replied: "Absolutely."