A redeemed Quade Cooper was speechless after Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie named him a shock vice-captain for this weekend's Cook Cup rugby clash with England.
Cooper has been elevated to the deputy role just 13 months after branding the Wallabies environment "toxic" under Robbie Deans.
The 25-year-old missed the mid-year British and Irish Lions series and was also benched by McKenzie for the opening two Bledisloe Cup Tests after the August coaching handover.
But his former Reds mentor has now handed him the leadership honour for the start of the European tour after being impressed with his team-first attitude.
Cooper said he was completely surprised by the appointment after Ben Mowen was also given a shock promotion and James Horwill dumped as skipper.
"I was a bit speechless, I didn't know what to say," the five-eighth said on Thursday morning.
"There was a great deal of happiness.
"To get that vice-captaincy next to my name is something I see as being pretty special but I'm just going to concentrate on doing the best job I can for the team within my role at No.10."
Cooper felt his ascension was a great reward for hard work and turning his focus on being a better team man.
"For me it's just a recognition of my off-field work and setting an example moving forward as well to continue to work as ward as possible on and off the field and be a good team player."
McKenziSpeechless Quade Cooper stunned by vice-captaincy calle said: "Were recognising Quade for the decision-making role he plays on the field and the positive involvements he continues to make in contributing to the culture of the team off the field."
Cooper to box on
But the Wallabies vice-captaincy won't end Cooper's boxing career, with the mercurial five-eighth aiming to have his second bout early next year.
Cooper's foray into pro boxing was one of the sticking points with the Australian Rugby Union 12 months ago when he was almost left without a national top-up contract.
Now well and truly back in the fold since long-time Queensland mentor Ewen McKenzie replaced Robbie Deans as national coach, the 25-year-old doesn't believe the extra leadership responsibility should change his extra-curricular boxing plans.
He intends a repeat of this year's pre-season build-up by scheduling a bout before the Super Rugby competition kicks off in mid-February.
Last February, he knocked out Barry Dunnett in the first round in his debut fight in Brisbane, missing the Queensland Reds' second and final Super Rugby trial against the Chiefs.
"I love (boxing). It's something I've continued to work at throughout the year," said Cooper. "It's something that during the week I find is very positive in my life.
"I'm looking forward to my next bout but the focus for me is this tour and I've got a massive game on Saturday (against England)."
The 45-Test five-eighth admitted he was yet to broach the subject of his boxing bout with McKenzie as he wanted all the attention given to the grand slam tilt.
"I don't want to take any limelight away or take any focus away from the team's goal of having a successful tour."
Cooper's surprise appointment as vice-captain sees him turn full circle after criticising the Wallabies environment as "toxic" 13 months ago.
Former Test teammate James O'Connor is now in the same position after being sent packing for continued misdemeanours and signing with London Irish.
Cooper feels O'Connor could also win back respect and his Wallabies jersey by adopting the right attitude.
"I think, being in those shoes before, that if you make the right steps it can be a great opportunity," he said.
"It's like anything in life and if you look at it in the right way - that everything happens for a reason - then it might be a good thing for him to change something in his life."