Quade Cooper has already made several very poor decisions in his short career, the most critical being the appointment of maverick manager, Khoder Nasser.
The recent headline grabbing outbursts are classic Nasser tactics but show a distinct lack of judgement and understanding of Cooper’s chosen sport, his teammates, his employers and finally the fans that ultimately pay the bills.
Nasser has needlessly rolled the dice on Cooper’s career at least three times in the past 12 months as he attempted to increase Cooper’s value.
First, he advised Cooper to sign a one year deal prior the 2011 RWC. Cooper’s poor RWC form and subsequent knee injury derailed this. Yet the ARU has offered him the same deal as in 2011.
Second, Nasser has sat on this reasonable ARU top-up for three months, hoping that Cooper would recover from his injury and rediscover form. The opposite happened.
Finally, Nasser encouraged and supported Cooper’s public outbursts, and from a position of weakness. Rugby League is not a career option for Cooper. Even if he got a contract so late in the NRL contract cycle, he is not tough enough for the grind and he can’t tackle. His criticism of the Wallabies’ conservative play is nothing to League’s four one-out hit-ups and kick for every six tackle series.
There is never a good time to publically criticise your employer or boss nor attack an icon of the game like Richie McCaw and certainly not when you are about to visit his homeland for two months.
Both destabilised the nation’s rugby team and his friends and supporters in the team and at a time when, already missing 15 starting players, they are about to travel to South Africa and Argentina, with an inaugural wooden spoon as the penalty for losing!
What is in it for Khoder Nasser? He is a boxing manager at heart. He masks his desire for more high profile boxing clients and the ability to assemble a boxing card by convincing his rugby clients to don the gloves and put their whole career at risk.
Nasser uses proven missionary tactics. He remains in the background while Mundine converts SBW who then converts Cooper. The message is simple but effective: ‘You and me against the world, brother! We will show them who is boss!’
While it is ridiculously high risk for SBW, at the peak of his powers and earning capabilities, to have a concurrent boxing career, it’s laughable that Quade Cooper is also going to box.
Cooper is a non tackling, not very robust, back. He is delusional if he thinks that he has the ticker to become a boxer!
Cooper’s hands are his tools of trade. One hand injury from a misdirected punch and it is over.
Yet under Nasser’s management, he is seeking this dispensation. Nasser seems incapable of understanding the relationship between risk and reward. He presents it as a challenge for his clients to overcome before abandoning all the hard set-up work for yet another green field challenge. Team sports are not like that.
Nasser also ignores the personal and commercial benefits to his clients of stability, of rest periods and of putting down roots in a community and a sport. With proper workload management, the athlete performs better, earns more money in the long term and builds a brand for retirement.
These are some of the Nasser orchestrations:
- Mundine and Williams’s mid-season departures from Saints and the Bulldogs respectively; Cooper is now refusing to play for the Wallabies.
- SBW’s delayed arrival into New Zealand rugby, risking his All Black and RWC ambitions. SBW was on the bench for the final.
- SBW’s departure from the Chiefs, after just one happy and productive year.
- SBW’s late arrival at the dysfunctional Sydney Roosters, with a first-year NRL coach, and via Japanese rugby. This is already creating pressure on SBW and risks possible player resentment.
- The fly-in-fly-out, 12 months a year, broad rather than deep management of SBW’s brand. Jonah Lomu built depth and still feeds the family today from rugby.
These tactics create headlines that boxing thrives on. They are an anathema to team sports and considered traitorous by their teammates.
Cooper plays a sport that is part of the establishment, conservative and traditional. Nasser’s management style is at odds with this.
All is not lost for Quade Cooper but a pattern has emerged. I am concerned for Quade Cooper. I enjoy his attacking play and I would prefer to see him stay in rugby, but only if he uses the correct channels to give his opinions. He would do well to put the management of his player affairs out to tender.