Quade Cooper believes Australia must find a new “identity” under Michael Cheika to move on from the Kurtley Beale saga.
The Queensland Reds fly-half said utility back Beale has been welcomed back into the Wallabies squad with open arms after his much-publicised absence.
Beale’s clashes with Di Patston led to the Wallabies business manager quitting her post, before coach Ewen McKenzie followed suit last month.
New boss Michael Cheika has drafted Beale back into the squad following a fine totalling almost £25,000 for sending Patston a lewd text, and the 25-year-old could line up against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
Cooper admitted sympathy for McKenzie’s plight, but challenged the Wallabies to complete a bout of soul searching on their northern hemisphere tour.
“From a team point of view he (Beale) offers a lot, everyone’s happy to have him here,” said Cooper.
“Cheiks speaks highly of him and knows his ability as a player.
“None of us are here to play politicians, or politics, we’re all here with the same focus of improving as a rugby team, and improving as rugby players.
“From a professional point of view we’re focusing on beating Ireland this week - we know it’s going to be a tough encounter.
“Kurtley is fine, he’s in good spirits and he’s keen to get out there, train and be a part of the squad.
“Of course, I think with the ups and downs we’ve had through the past season it’s great to be on tour for five weeks and have five games.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to find our identity as a team, and that’s something we’re working very hard at.
“This is an interesting tour, we had a good start against the Barbarians and a tough game against the French, so we’re just aiming to improve.”
Cooper himself is back in the Wallabies squad after a protracted absence, teaming up with Will Genia in the half-back cordon for the first time in a year against the Barbarians at the start of the month.
The 26-year-old has enjoying boxing sparring sessions with new coach Cheika in training – and admitted his quest for personal improvement is mirrored by the entire squad.
“When you see someone step down you feel for them but you’ve got to respect their decision around that,” said Cooper of McKenzie.
“In terms of everything else I’ve been excited with the opportunity to grow under a new coach.
“Also I’m just happy to be back in and around the squad, being able to contribute to the team.
“If I can contribute in any way, holding pads, being out on the field or giving advice, I’ll continue to do that.
“That’s my sole focus, to become a better person, a better player and a better team-mate.”
Cooper said former Leinster coach Cheika is excited to be back on Irish soil, while at the same time demanding a new “mental edge” from his Wallabies.
“The way he talks about the game, he’s very passionate about being physical,” said Cooper.
“Training is very intense, very physical, there’s no time to take a breath.
“That’s what this team must build on the back of.
“The identity of the team, we’re all heading in the same direction.
“If we can continue to follow his guidance, we’ll be a lot better for it.
“Mental edge is something he talks about a lot.
“Mental preparation, each individual making sure we cover everything in the week, leaving nothing to chance.
“So when we get into tight situations, we won’t give opponents the opportunity to win the game.”