Test rugby superstars Quade Cooper and Sonny Bill Williams stopped by Melbourne yesterday to promote next month’s Bledisloe Cup blockbuster to be held at Marvel Stadium on September 15.
For Cooper, it was a welcome return to a city he once called home, having represented the Melbourne Reebls in 2019 alongside current Wallabies’ teammates Reece Hodge, Matt Philip, Rob Leota, Pone Fa’amausili and Marika Koroibete
Rebels Media caught up with Rebel 136 for an exclusive chat on all things Rebels, Victorian Rugby and the continued growth of our Burn Boys.
Rebels Media: Quade, Australia and New Zealand are fierce rivals on the field, how do you see Australia’s chances getting one back over our Trans-Tasman rivals in Melbourne?
QC: We’ve been preparing for this one for a long time. Both teams are in the position where their backs are against the wall, so it will be a great opportunity for both teams, who are both relatively young and hungry to compete. In this city, I know it will be a great turnout, so I can’t wait.
Rebels Media: You mentioned the Victorian rugby community is one of the most passionate communities you’ve encountered so far in playing career. Touch on the growth you’ve seen in rugby across our state since your time with the Rebels in 2019?
QC: With Victorian rugby, there’s never been a question about the hunger there is for rugby. I came here in 2008 after a Reds season to do a presentation at one of the schools down here, and the rugby fraternity blew me away.
Everybody said there’s not much rugby down here. When I got here, the reception and the support for rugby was incredible. To then be able to come down here and play for Melbourne was fantastic. It’s a great place to bring a Bledisloe, so it’s exciting to come here and see all the gold jerseys in the stands.
Rebels Media: Our Club is proud of all our Wallabies representatives, especially our homegrown players who have risen through the local pathway systems such as Pone and Rob. How have you seen their personal development working so close with both boys?
QC: Talent – these boys have it in spades. Spending time with them in the Wallabies set up since last year and seeing their growth as men as they live their lives, has been great.
It puts now messages on me say ‘bro, are you still getting up early? Let’s go have a swing before training.’ So we’ll get up at 5 am – me, Rob and a few of the boys – and we’ll drive to the beach, so we’re up and moving.
That shift in mentality and how they go about their days, there’s no doubt in my mind that flows onto how they approach their training and why they’ve been successful as men and as leaders in the Wallabies.
That type of approach or mentality for a team is amazing for team culture and for a team that’s looking to grow throughout it’s journey.
If you get guys doing that everyday, that rubs off onto the next guy close to them. Before you know it, you’ve got 30 players out’ve 35 all moving in the same direction. That’s the majority rather than the minority. If it’s the other way around, now you’re in a tough position.
That’s where the shift I’ve noticed since being back in the Wallabies over the past 2 years has been. I’m excited about the future and having guys like Rob and Pone lead the way.
Rebels Media: What impact do you think hosting such a big Test match in Melbourne will have on the next generation of rugby players across our state?
If we can get a win, that will go a long way! Sonny and I were talking about that in the car park. Perception is reality. Two big teams coming together to a great city for a big game. I guarantee
there will be a lot of kids that are playing AFL or who are playing rugby league, that are also rugby union supporters. With a strong performance we might be able to sway a few of them over and get them into the game and take advantage of the great opportunity that Melbourne has and the exciting decade ahead for Australian rugby.