Waratahs utility back Kurtley Beale believes fly-half Quade Cooper will bounce back after he was left out of the Reds squad for the 2018 Super Rugby season.
Beale said loyalty is a two-way street in sport in response to questions about Cooper's axing.
Reds coach Brad Thorn made the somewhat surprising revelation that Cooper would be unlikely to feature in Queensland’s 2018 plans earlier this week, along with out-of-favour scrum-half Nick Frisby.
The news means Cooper could be the most high-profile Queensland Premier Rugby player in 2018, though an overseas move could also be on the cards.
It caps off a disappointing year for the fly-half, who was omitted from Test plans ahead of the Rugby Championship and failed to crack the Wallabies fold again, after erratic showings in Australia's National Rugby Championship (NRC).
Cooper returned to the Reds in 2016 after a short stint with Toulon, but his form dropped off in 2017, a slide coupled with the emergence of young fly-half Hamish Stewart, who played under Thorn in the NRC this season.
Beale said players who have contributed to teams’ success deserved to be treated as such, but by the same token, athletes had to stay on their toes in a brutal business.
“We can't be resting on our laurels and getting comfortable, especially guys that are coming towards the back of their careers," he told the Australian Rugby Union's official website from the announcement of the Brisbane Tens draw.
“That's more of an attitude thing and the way I kind of approach it but definitely I think, especially for guys that have given the game a lot, given clubs a lot over the years, premierships, Test matches won etc, there's got to be some level of respect there.
“We can't expect that kind of stuff, we've just got to go out there and make sure you're not in that position.”
The 28-year-old backed the discarded Cooper to come back stronger after the news, whether that’s working his way back to Super Rugby through Queensland Premier Rugby, or potentially taking an overseas offer.
“It's disappointing but he's a good mate of mine, we've played a lot of rugby together, this is just a little bit of a minor setback,” said Beale.
“I think the athlete he is and the mindset and the way he approaches his training, I think he'll bounce back from this, no doubt.
“He's always that guy that wants to keep going and with the experience that he has and what he's done in his career, somewhere down the track he'll be involved somewhere with the Reds but that's all I can really say.”