New Zealand have already produced one key part of Australia’s current test side and in the form of Quade Cooper.
Now that Cooper has picked up an injury an opportunity has arisen for another New Zealand born player to make an impact on Australian Rugby.
Cooper’s team mate at the Queensland Reds is Mike Harris and he is hoping to thrive in the absence of Cooper from the sides opening games in this year’s Super Rugby tournament. Harris was born in Auckland but like Cooper, Harris has pledged himself to Australia for whom he qualifies to play through his Australian grandmother.
Harris is hoping he can make enough of an impact for the Reds in Cooper’s absence to give himself a chance of a call up to the Wallabies squad in the near future. He was tipped for a call up in the Australian’s short tour of Europe in the Autumn, but was unable to after twice having to go under the knife for “frustrating” operations on his knee.
Cooper will no doubt be a massive miss for the Reds but they are not short of cover in the number 10 department. Harris has been named as one of six potential stand offs for the opening stages of the Super Rugby campaign.
The absence of a name such as Cooper gives the squad players a chance to step up and prove how good they are. Harris himself said “Quade is a big loss to the team but other guys will step up” he describes it as personally “a big opportunity”.
Cooper was subject to a poor reception from New Zealand crowds during the World Cup. They took it as a major insult that a player would choose to play for the Wallabies over the All Blacks, the team of both players birth.
Cooper also turned down the chance to play for England, on his grandmother’s side – the team with best Six Nations betting odds contacted him back in March but were informed that a decision had already been made.
It is likely that any success for Harris is likely to be met by an equally negative response from their neighbours. But Harris will no doubt take the stick if given the chance to represent his adopted homeland.