Former Wallabies star Quade Cooper says Australian citizenship bid rejected

Sport

The rugby player Quade Cooper says he has had his application for Australian citizenship rejected despite playing more than 70 Tests for the Wallabies.

Cooper, 33, was born in Auckland and still holds New Zealand citizenship, although he has lived in Australia since the age of 13.

His residency in Australia made him eligible for the Wallabies. He travelled on his New Zealand passport throughout his rugby career, which has included two World Cups and winning the 2011 Super Rugby championship with the Queensland Reds.

However, in 2016 it was revealed Cooper’s lack of Australian citizenship had denied him a chance for selection with the Australian rugby sevens Olympic team for the Rio Games.

Cooper took to Twitter on Tuesday to complain that a recent citizenship application had been rejected.

To obtain citizenship, residents generally need to satisfy strict rules compelling them to reside in Australia without extended absence in the years before the application.

Cooper has been playing rugby abroad, most recently with the Kintetsu Liners in Japan’s top flight. But applicants for citizenship can be exempted from the residency rules if they meet “special residency requirements”.

He posted a screenshot of his rejection letter, which said he had not provided evidence to satisfy special residency requirements, including that he was a “person engaging in activities of benefit to Australia” or “engaged in particular kinds of work requiring regular travel outside of Australia”.

“Awkward moment @ausgov refuse your citizenship application (again). Wearing the green and gold 70 times apparently is not enough these days,” Cooper tweeted.

Australia’s home affairs minister, Karen Andrews, was approached for comment.

Cooper’s Wallabies career spanned nine years. Prior to that, he appeared 14 times over three years for the Wallabies under-20s and schoolboys teams.

He played 118 times over 12 years for the Queensland Reds, before leaving for a short stint with the Melbourne Rebels and, later, the Kintetsu Liners in Japan.

Other Australian sportsmen spoke out in support of Cooper. Drew Mitchell, who appeared for the Wallabies 71 times, said the decision lacked common sense.

Tennis player John Millman described the rejection as a “joke”.