Reds teenager raring to go




Quade Cooper is only turning 19 in April, but the teenaged fly-half is ready to start in the big time. And he has to be, because that is exactly what he will do on Saturday when he dons the number ten jersey for the Reds against the Lions.

Rookie Red Cooper says playing alongside fellow fly-half Berrick Barnes at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night should help him settle in to his first starting appearance in the Super 14 tournament.

The 18-year-old, playing in his first season out of school, has been selected in the run-on side against the Lions from Johannesburg, while usual fly-half Barnes moves one position along to inside centre.

“When you have two fly-halves on the field it’s easy to understand each other and there’s more talk. Berrick’s a good reader of the game and it’ll be good having him alongside me steering me around a bit,” Cooper said.

Reds backline coach Damon Emtage said Cooper’s inclusion alongside Barnes gives the team some exciting attacking options.

“It’s an exciting thing for the team. We’ve actually got two ball players playing side by side and with the options we have it’s quite exciting really.

“We actually think having two ball players there can take pressure off playing first receiver.

“The significant thing is they give each other a voice and with the different combinations we’ve been playing in the outside backs this year the communication coming to the fly-half has not been as rounded as an experienced combination; what these two will do is actually talk the game to each other.”

But Emtage cautioned against reading too much into the selection as a pointer to the future.

“It’s literally just a measure for this week [Peter Hynes, Lloyd Johansson and Andrew Brown are all unavailable] and we’ll see what comes out of it. Next week we potentially have five or six players returning to the squad and that will pose questions as to what our combination is going into two important matches [against the Highlanders and Force].”

For now, though, Cooper is preparing to live out his dream of being in the starting 15 of a Super 14 match.

“This is a great opportunity for me and something I’ve hoped for since I was very young.”

Cooper, who was born in Tokoroa in the Waikato region of New Zealand, said he had been playing rugby since the age of four.

“As soon as I could run I was out playing rugby,” he said.

He’s well aware that the Lions will probably send a few big forwards his way to test him out in defence.

“Every fly-half expects that they’re going to have traffic running at them. I’m prepared for that.”

365 Digital

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