“You just continue to try, be persistent with that and if it comes to fruition in the next couple of days, weeks or even months, as I said, there is more to being an Australian than just a piece of paper. It will be a little bit of a cherry on top but it’s not over the line yet.”
Cooper hopes the amended rule will provide light at the end of the tunnel for other Australians, such as Genia. But without a recall to the Wallabies the halfback may have to wait until 2028 until he can become a citizen, four years after retirement.
The sticking point relates to the fact Genia must not have been overseas for 12 months all up in the four-year period before applying. And while Cooper will benefit from the changes allowing more flexibility for overseas-based “exceptional” Australians given he is a current Wallaby, Genia played the last of his 110 Tests in 2019.
Adam Byrnes, a former teammate of Genia and Cooper at the Queensland Reds, is the principal immigration lawyer of Visa & Citizenship Lawyers and is advising Genia. He believes there is an easy solution.
“His advice is not to apply for citizenship at this point in time because he doesn’t meet the requirements,” Byrnes said. “What I don’t want to see is an exception made for someone who is currently playing for Australia and then Will may miss out because he’s no longer currently playing for the Wallabies. I want to see both my mates granted citizenship if there is an amendment to the legislation.
“Will has been in Australia since 2000. That’s the majority of his life. He came as a school student. For Quade, it looks like there is going to be a tweak for a current player under ‘the engaging in activities of benefit to Australia’. Quade is currently engaging in activities of benefit, where Will is not.”
The 33-year-old is wary of the wounded Springboks, who have not lost back-to-back matches since 2018.
“As a team, (it’s about) being on that high and understanding it for what it is,” Cooper said.
“Not thinking that from that point on, we’re world beaters. They’re the best team in the world.
“At that point in time, you miss that kick, you lose. You get that kick, you win.
“For me, it was just really understanding what that moment meant and move on to the next.”
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