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Former Wallaby Quade Cooper has opened up about feeling “disheartened” after being denied Australian citizenship four times since 2015.
Cooper played 70 tests for Australia, including appearances at two World Cups, but he still can’t officially call himself an Aussie.
The 33-year-old, who was born in New Zealand but moved to Australia when he was 13, has never represented his nation of birth in rugby.
“You can call me naïve, but when you’ve been out representing your country on the world stage … you just expect when the time comes to it (citizenship) wouldn’t be too hard a process,” he told the ABC.
“When you are standing in the stadium, the [national] anthem is going and you look out into the crowd and you see all the support … it’s hard not to feel Australian.”
In a strange set of circumstances, Cooper was deemed not to have provided sufficient evidence for satisfying the special residence requirements.
According to the Daily Mail, successful applicants must have been based in Australia for the past four years.
That includes not being absent from the country for more than “12 months in total in the four-year period, including no more than 90 days in total in the 12-month period prior to application”.
Cooper’s citizenship papers were reportedly not approved because he chose to play professional rugby abroad, including playing in Japan for the past two seasons.
He says he has given everything to the national team and believes Australia is his home.
“I think it would be a nice thing to officially call this (Australia) home.
“I come home here every time I leave the country — this is where I come, this is where I earnt a living most of my career, this is where I have a home — the memories I’ve been able to create. This is home.”
While exemptions are sometimes granted, another roadblock seems to be that international rugby isn’t deemed an activity which “benefits” Australia.
Last week, Cooper took to Twitter to express his frustration at getting his latest application denied and included the Australian Home Affairs department’s formal response.
“Awkward moment @ausgov refuse your citizenship applications (again) … wearing the green and gold 70 times apparently is not enough these days … Cheers Shannon,” Cooper tweeted.
The Home Affairs department stated Cooper had failed to engage in “activities of benefit to Australia” or “any work requiring frequent travel outside of the country”.
Cooper represented the Wallabies in tests across the world from 2008-2017, including two World Cup campaigns.
Read More: Rugby: ‘This is home’ – Ex-Wallaby Quade Cooper speaks out after being denied 2021-07-21 23:13:55