Quade Cooper is set to be granted Australian citizenship after all following an announcement from the federal government that eligibility rules will be made more flexible.
Returning to the Test fold for the first time in more than four years on Sunday, Cooper slotted a perfect eight-of-eight goals including a long-range effort after the siren to help the Wallabies beat South Africa 28-26.
'DISRESPECT': Wallabies left seething over All Blacks move
His heroic efforts only fuelled the public interest around the New Zealand-born star's pursuit of Australian citizenship after he revealed in July that he'd been knocked back four times.
However Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke announced on Tuesday that there would be increased flexibility to "streamline the pathway to citizenship for some of our most talented prospective Australians", opening the door for Cooper.
"The unique work and travel demands on some of our most highly distinguished prospective Australians should not preclude them from making the cut," Hawke said.
"That's why I have directed the Department of Home Affairs to apply greater flexibility in applying the residence requirement for eligible people.
"Exceptional people must not be prevented from becoming Australians because of the unique demands of the very work they do that makes them exceptional."
Cooper moved to Australia when he was 13, winning a Super Rugby title and playing more than 100 games in 11 years for the Queensland Reds.
He played a season with the Melbourne Rebels before moving to Japan, where his long-term occupation had been a hurdle to previous requests for Australian citizenship.
Former Wallabies captain Will Genia (born in Papua New Guinea) also doesn't currently have Australian citizenship despite playing 110 Tests for the country.
Cooper thanked his supporters on Tuesday after the announcement from Hawke.
"I have to give my thanks to (Labor senator) Kristina Keneally and her office for going into bat for me and the Australian public, who put a lot of pressure, and the media, on the government to take a look at not only my case (but others in a similar position)," Cooper said.
"It's not over the line, but great to see the rule has been amended to make it a little easier for us.
"There would be countless others who've seen the news today and seen that little glimmer of hope."
Wow. 8 out of 8 kicks for Quade Cooper on his return to the Wallabies. Maybe his Australian citizenship can be approved now? #AUSvRSA
— Karina Carvalho (@karina_carv) September 12, 2021
Surely that kick gets @QuadeCooper his Australian citizenship??!!
— Drew Mitchell (@drew_mitchell) September 12, 2021
— EK Rugby Analysis (@ek_rugby) September 12, 2021
There's a special kind of intellectual blindness/ignorance to red tape that denies Quade Cooper and Will Genia Australian citizenship. Apart from the obvious, they have given to their communities/country beyond sport.https://t.co/qFh6LEnyBZ
— Max Uechtritz (@plesbilongmi) September 13, 2021
Quade Cooper seizes his chance in Wallabies recall
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie reckons a 35-year-old Cooper could lead the side into the next World Cup after the much-maligned playmaker took down world champions South Africa in his first Test for more than four years.
That scenario would have seemed bizarre even after the 33-year-old was drafted into the squad during his Japanese off-season, primarily as a mentor to budding No.10 Noah Lolesio, earlier this year.
But it doesn't any more after his fairytale return on the Gold Coast on Sunday.
Cooper is now in the box seat to keep Lolesio on the pine and also delay what appeared the inevitable Rugby Championship return of James O'Connor (groin), who at 31 could become the junior playmaker of the side.
"We didn't think it was risk," Rennie said of picking Cooper, who hadn't played a professional game in five months.
"Based on form (in training) it was hard to leave him out. He'd be a young fella (at the 2023 World Cup) if he was in the Springbok team.
"Of course he could (be Wallabies No.10 at the World Cup), but we're not thinking too far ahead at this stage.
"He was excited to get an opportunity and delivered big time and I know he's keen and available for the rest of the year."
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