Quade Cooper is set to deliver Australian rugby bosses more sleepless nights with a move to Team Mundine in the wings.
The electric Wallabies five-eighth has informed his management company IMG he intends leaving the agency, clearing the way for Cooper to link up with Khoder Nasser, agent of Anthony Mundine and Sonny Bill Williams.
Cooper has become firm friends with both Mundine and Williams recently and it is believed Nasser provided advice behind the scenes to the 22-year-old last year as he weighed up a future in rugby league or with Queensland and the Wallabies.
Cooper’s contract with IMG does not finish for another three months but speculation has been rife in rugby circles in recent weeks that he’ll turn to Nasser when he embarks on another round of contract negotiations later this year.
“I can confirm IMG’s agreement with Quade will end in April,” agent Richard Colreavy told The Daily Telegraph. “I am uncertain what he intends to do next in terms of management but we wish him well.”
Colreavy helped Cooper to secure a $600,000-plus contract with the ARU last year amid interest from the Parramatta Eels, though it was only a one-year extension.
Nasser was not able to be contacted last night. His potential involvement at the negotiating table will no doubt have Australian rugby bosses chewing their nails.
The shrewd agent behind Mundine and Williams has shown he’s happy to take his clients around the world to land them the biggest payday.
Williams walked out on the Bulldogs in 2008 to take up a lucrative new career in French rugby, where he became one of the highest-paid players. Williams is now back in New Zealand and debuted for the All Blacks last year.
Nasser has also helped Mundine earn millions in boxing after similarly walking out on a rugby league career.
If Cooper’s trajectory continues to rise at its current rate, the ARU will no doubt be told to reach deep into the coffers to keep him beyond the World Cup.
Opinion is divided whether Cooper remains keen to make the leap into rugby league. Some close to Cooper believe a link with Nasser indicates he may defect but a senior Queensland source said yesterday there is confidence the Kiwi-born playmaker prefers rugby and will stay in the game. Whether that is in Australia remains to be seen.
There would no doubt be many overseas clubs, particularly in France, prepared to pay top dollar for Cooper, even though his weak defence caused his dramas last year.
by Buford Balony