Cooper aiming to impress in Super 14


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Reds back from Queensland Quade Cooper has no plans to sit around dwelling on his past achievements and has shunned advice to sit out Reds training until January and returned before Christmas with preparations for the upcoming Super14.

Cooper was one of the shining lights on the Wallabies recent tour of Europe after he capitalised on fellow Reds player Berrick Barnes’s tour-ending knee injury to score his first three Test caps against Italy, Wales and the Barbarians.

Cooper impressed at No. 10 in the Wallabies’ 18-11 win over a star-studded Barbarians team at Wembley Stadium and was also a handy substitute in their defeat against Wales.

Cooper remains coy about what was probably the tour high point which was his last-minute try in the Wallabies’ opening victory against Italy, when Cooper danced around the Italian defence to score a scintillating matchwinner.

“I thought I did pretty well, particularly on the defensive end, which has been a big focus for me,” Cooper told the Courier Mail.

“I think my tackling improved – I was actually pretty happy with that side of my game.”

Having spent time with the Wallabies has boosted Cooper’s confidence which is great news for long-suffering Reds fans desperate to see a more competitive unit in 2009.

His quick rise also pours extra pressure on first choice flyhalf Berrick Barnes who will have to fight hard to keep the No. 10 jersey from Cooper, particularly as he continues his long rehabilitation of his left knee.

If Barnes does regain fitness for the Reds season opener against the Bulls on February the 14th in Pretoria, Cooper is likely to be pushed out from his preferred place at 10 to 12 where he has has been playing recently.

“I’ve been playing at No. 12 a bit but I prefer No. 10,” Cooper said.

“I’d definitely like to start at flyhalf. But if I have to move up the field I’ll put my hand up.”

Reds coach Phil Mooney isn’t giving away too much about his where he plans to play these two up and coming stars but is confident that Cooper will be a more complete player in 2009.

“The fact that he has trained and played at Wallaby level while still only 20 will make him a more composed and confident player in 2009,” Mooney said.

The Reds return to full training at the end of next week after the New Year celebrations as their first trial match looms against arch rivals the NSW Waratahs looms on Saturday, January 24 in Toowoomba.

While the Wallabies next match is only in June when they play Italy and France just before the Tri-Nations series, Cooper is obviously hopes that he will have done enough in the Super 14 to push for Wallaby selection later in 2009.

“Hopefully I will get another chance to play for the Wallabies, because once you’ve had a taste of it you can’t get enough,” he said.

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