Quade Cooper opens up: ‘I didn’t feel worthy of being Maori’
DUMPED Wallabies star Quade Cooper has revealed his cultural identity struggles since moving from New Zealand to Australia while also putting his hand up for a game for the Maori All Blacks.
Cooper, who moved to Brisbane as a 13-year-old, made the comments in an interview with TVNZ's Marae program.
The now 30-year-old five-eighth is currently a highly paid club player in Brisbane after being frozen out by both Reds coach Brad Thorn and Wallabies boss Michael Cheika.
He copped it in his Kiwi homeland and was Public Enemy No 1 at the 2011 Rugby World Cup after several on-field run ins with All Blacks icon Richie McCaw.
"Sometimes, I didn't really feel worthy of being Māori," Cooper said.
"Living in Australia, you sort of... not forget, but it's not right on your doorstep.
"But I think being Maori is something that's inside you.
"A lot of times people criticise, because I played for Australia, things like that.
"A lot of times I have felt it's a bit true, because I don't necessarily know enough about my family or my heritage, or what I'd like to know.
"I've been trying to learn a little bit more, trying to get a bit more knowledge on my roots and things like that.
"It's all a journey.
"If I was ever to play for the Māori one day, that would be another step in that journey."
Despite Cooper being contracted to the Reds in 2019, Thorn has shown no signs that he will recall the mercurial playmaker, while Matt Toomua's return to Australia would seem to slam the door shut on his Rugby World Cup hopes.
But Cooper isn't fussed, saying he is content plying his trade in club rugby for Souths.
"Not only has it helped me become a better player, I've been able to help a team become a better team and individuals become better individuals.
"Those are experiences that you can't force or you can't buy.
"Knowing that I've been through that... I've had a great time.
"It's been beneficial and eye opening.
"I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be part of Souths and be part of the club I joined when I first came over from New Zealand."