Ex-Scotland scrum-half Chris Cusiter has questioned the idea that John Cooney, the out-of-favour Ireland No9, is considering a change in allegiance and declaring for the land of his father in time for next year’s World Cup in France.
The 32-year-old Dubliner won the last of his eleven Ireland Test caps in February 2020 and with the three-year standdown period required to change national team allegiance now just months away from being fulfilled, the Ulster player has claimed he has a big decision to make.
In an interview for the Ulster Rugby Show on BBC Northern Ireland, Cooney explained: “I’ll make the decision on my own terms and whatever I feel is right for me. Half of my family live in Scotland and my dad’s a proud Scotsman. I have to make sure everything is right with me with Ulster in terms of the contract and stuff like that.
“I have seen people commenting – I can see other people’s perception of it but they are generally people who have no connection or affiliation to another country. I can see both sides of the conversation but I won’t be listening outside. Either way, I know my dad would be immensely proud if I did play (for Scotland).”
This ‘Cooney for Scotland’ scenario quickly caught the eye of Cusiter on social media. “Cracking player but I would be properly annoyed if a 32/33-year-old was brought in ahead of me and I was a young Scottish scrum-half,” he commented on Twitter.
Cracking player but I would be properly annoyed if a 32/33 year old was brought in ahead of me and I was a young Scottish scrum half. https://t.co/KQU35d3H42
— Chris Cusiter (@chriscusiter) November 30, 2022
“However, as a fan, if he came off the bench and kicked the winning penalty against Ireland in the World Cup then I think my opinion could be changed. It’s not so much about that (though partly given his age) but the emotional connection and ambition to play for Scotland. Can’t blame him if he’s eligible and gets picked but I’m just not sure I’d agree with it.”
Cooney isn’t the first Test No9 to generate headlines in recent months about a potential change in allegiance. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, the 2015 All Blacks World Cup winner, previously spoke about his desire to play for Australia, the country where he was born before going to second-level school as a teenager in New Zealand.
Go for it @JCooney09
Hopefully you’ll stay at @UlsterRugby when you do.
Your continued omission from @IrishRugby is criminal so go shine on the international stage.
BBC News – John Cooney: Ireland scrum-half considering switch to Scotlandhttps://t.co/lok4hAzQTu
— Don Gregory (@bigtiny42) November 30, 2022
It must be personal between Andy Farrell & John Cooney! Makes no sense Cooney isn’t in the Irish team.
— JJ CASEY (@JJCASEY8) November 30, 2022
I have no particular issue with him playing for Scotland if he’s eligible, it is a 32-33 year old as a fourth choice really a better prospect than bringing on Jamie Dobie?
— Ian MacGilp (@IanMacGilp) November 30, 2022
Would be a massive loss for Ireland and a huge gain for Scotland. Cooney is clearly good enough to play internationally and if he’s not appreciated within Ireland why not go somewhere he would be appreciated? Sad, no doubt, but I don’t blame him one bit. https://t.co/nm4xmaht1w
— Sergeant Rugby (@SergeantRugby) November 30, 2022