The reported incident on the Gold Coast involving Quade Cooper and allegations of burglary has the potential to turn nasty and markedly set back his union career in Australia.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past 24 hours you may not know Cooper was arrested by Gold Coast Police for allegedly breaking into an apartment in the early hours of Sunday morning and taking some property.
He was apparently located nearby the premises with police sources intimating that he had to be subdued by capsicum spray during his arrest.
Potential to turn nasty? On the face of it you’d have to say that as alleged footy outrages go, of the rugby union variety, it probably couldn’t get much worse.
Before we go any further let’s remember that this guy has, and deserves, the presumption of innocence. These allegations haven’t yet been tested in court so it’s not our business to try and prove or disprove them here.
The thing that is most annoying about this sort of incident is the damage it does to both him and to our code when it becomes public property and when the ramifications are fully laid out.
This is a talented young guy who has just returned from establishing himself as a credible inside back option in Robbie Dean’s ‘new world’.
He is still finding his legs at this level but there are promising signs that this highly skillful player is developing into a really good find.
Then this happens. Regardless of guilt or innocence there are going to be some very unhappy administrators in the ARU that he allowed himself, at the very least, to be put in such a compromising position.
Unlike their rugby league counterparts, the ARU takes a very dim view of behavioural matters which are likely to bring the game into disrepute. Now, this is undoubtedly one of those circumstances.
I would consider that the situation he now finds himself in is more serious than Tuqiri or Henjak’s, especially if the matter is proven.
We all know what happened to them when they breached the ARU Code of Conduct on a number of occasions. It’s a three strikes and you’re out policy.
Now my understanding is that there may already be ‘strikes’ recorded on Cooper’s docket? Not so much the ‘jolly japes’ food fight business but the $10,000 fine for breaking a taxi driver’s window in Brisbane earlier this year. Who knows whether there have been others or not?
In terms of the options available to the rugby union it is common for players to be stood down pending an investigation by an appointed authority.
Cooper is on holiday at the moment so that may not be a necessary or prudent course of action. Inevitably, some retired QC will be investigating it on their behalf.
I would think that the ARU/QRU as his employer will be establishing the lay of the land leading up to his court appearance later this week; trying to get a handle on the circumstances; perhaps the weight of evidence and some sense of culpability.
It sounds as though there is some water to go under the bridge before this is resolved and any defended hearing will prolong the matter for some months.
Not that we know this was the story in his case, but we’ve seen lots of young blokes who have the world at their feet go and ruin it by alcohol affected stupidity.
I guess we were all young once but I never spent a night in the nick (not on that side anyway).
Lawyers for Cooper have urged the public not to pre-judge their client. That’s fair enough, it’s their job to say that and they’re right.
I’m hoping that there were extenuating or other circumstances that we don’t know about yet that will allow him to fight this off and continue playing professionally in Queensland.
Anyone with convictions will increasingly find it difficult to get work visas to play overseas, as we’ve recently seen with our mungo mates.
It looks to me like, whatever the outcome, there are usually no winners in these things and there may be some hard lessons learned, to the detriment of the player, his team and our game.