Quade Cooper relishing going up against Kurtley Beale



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Bragging rights won’t get more personal in Saturday’s Reds vs Waratahs Super 14 grudge match than for much-hyped prodigies Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper.

The two talented young playmakers who will oppose each other for the first time in senior rugby on Saturday will wear different coloured jerseys but are extremely close mates.

The two are friends because they played together while playing for the Australian Schoolboys in 2005 and 2006.

Queenslander Cooper, 20, and Waratah Beale, 19, enter the Suncorp Stadium showdown in enemy camps but both full of confidence after coming off their best games of 2008.

Not only will the victor enjoy sipping from the Bob Templeton Cup but they should also get the inside running for the five-eighth jersey in the Australian Under-20 team for next month’s world junior championship.

That could also lead to an important Test apprenticeship as the No.10 for Australia A in the Pacific Nations Cup and possibly a Wallabies squad berth as an understudy to Matt Giteau.

“We’re very good mates so it should be fun,” Cooper told AAP.

“It will be awesome playing against him again.

“If I get the chance I’ll give him a shot and then a bit of a smile to let him know I’m there.

“But I’m sure he’ll do the same if he gets the chance too, that’s footy.”

Cooper was raised in Waikato and took all before him when he arrived in Brisbane as an elusive 15-year-old but the impression he made was nothing compared to Beale, whose skills he first witnessed at the national Under-16 titles.

“The first time I saw him I could see the talent matched what everyone was talking about,” Cooper said.

“He really set the bar there and after watching a few more of his games he only got better.

“Once I got to know him he was a really good bloke. I think we’re quite similar in a few ways and we get on really well.”

Cooper says Beale has been a great support in helping him overcome the pressure of the Super 14 and the pair speak regularly.

When Cooper missed selection in the Reds team for the first round of the competition, Beale was a surprise visitor to the Queensland A dressing room to wish his mate all the best in the curtain-raiser to the Waratahs clash with the Hurricanes.

While Beale has captured more of the attention and has performed more consistently in 2008 for the third-placed Waratahs, some judges like dual international Russell Fairfax rated Cooper the more impressive out of school.

But Cooper thanks Beale for improving his own game.

“Watching him out on the field when I first came over was pretty amazing and it made me want to go away and work harder on my running game and my passing game and he showed that at 15, he was cutting defences apart with his step and ball skills,” Cooper said.

Both players sat on their respective benches when the Waratahs triumphed 26-13 in the corresponding match last season and only Cooper got on the field at the death.

While they played plenty of times together – at 10 and 12 – in the green and gold, Saturday night’s game will only be their second match on opposite sides with Beale holding a 1-0 advantage.

“It will be a good time to get one up on the board,” Cooper said.

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