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Cooper must mature as a No.10: Flatley
Ben Horne
17:42 AEST Fri Aug 17 2012

Former Australia playmaker Elton Flatley believes Quade Cooper needs to be in the national team but admits the fallen star must still learn the art of Test match rugby.

Flatley, who played 38 matches for the Wallabies at five-eighth and inside centre, says 24-year-old Cooper has some maturing to do as a No.10 before he can turn his enormous potential into international results.

However, Flatley said Cooper showed in his Super Rugby return from injury this year that he knows what areas need work.

Berrick Barnes was preferred by Robbie Deans over Cooper at No.10 for Saturday night's opener against New Zealand with the Queensland star also overlooked for a bench spot as the fallout from his disastrous 2011 World Cup campaign lingers.

Flatley knows from personal experience the pain of being dropped but said keeping Cooper in the Test arena was the best way to help him iron out his chinks.

"Sometimes in Test matches you have to be a little bit conservative. Super Rugby is a little bit looser than Test match footy and just by getting out and playing more Tests he'll start to learn that," Flatley told AAP.

"Obviously Quade didn't have a great World Cup and he'd even admit that, but he's still a pretty young guy.

"He's still got some development in his game in learning to control games and even sometimes underplaying his hand.

"When he came back for the Reds he played really well by doing all the things he's really good at but even by underplaying it a little bit. Long term I think we'll see him as the Australian No.10.

"He's got that X-factor and he needs to be in the Wallaby team."

Flatley was part of the victorious Australian legends team who conquered a team of New Zealand greats at golf at Oatlands on Friday.