Rugby-'We want our peers to flourish', Wallaby Cooper defends Smith contact

FILE PHOTO: Rugby player Quade Cooper of the Melbourne Rebels poses for a photo during an interview in Melbourne, Australia February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Ian Ransom

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper flatly rejected the suggestion that there might be anything wrong with him helping England flyhalf Marcus Smith with his development on Monday.

The pair, whose playing styles have been compared, could face each other at Perth Stadium on Saturday when Australia host England in the first match of a three-test series.

Cooper, 34, said the 23-year-old Englishman had got in touch on social media when his former Queensland team mate Ben Tapuai was playing with Smith at Harlequins.

"We're all here to help each other grow, we play a sport that's a competitive sport, but at the end of the day we play the same sport," Cooper told reporters in Queensland.

"We want the sport to flourish, we want our peers, our counterparts, to flourish as well.

"If you're of the mindset where you're trying to hold things back and you’re trying to stunt someone else's growth, for me personally, that's such a negative way to live your life.

"For me, if I can help someone progress, or someone can help me progress, those are the kind of friendships and relationships and people I want to be around in my day-to-day life."

Cooper, who is contending with James O'Connor and Noah Lolesio for the Australia number 10 jersey, said he would be delighted to lock horns with Smith over the next three weeks.

"He's a great talent and if I get the opportunity to play against him, it would be something I'll enjoy and hopefully continue to build that friendship over coming years," he added.

Cooper said he wished he had been able to get in touch with older players and exchange ideas when he was a young player.

"When I was young we couldn't just send Carlos Spencer an Instagram or DM and have a chat, we couldn't even get in contact with these guys, everything was out of reach," he said.

"Whereas nowadays, I support a lot of young guys coming through and enjoy watching the way they play."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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