Reds five-eighth Quade Cooper is confident he’ll be right to oppose Wallabies teammate and Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua in their Super Rugby opener.
The Queensland Reds are set to line up at full strength in their Super Rugby opener against the Brumbies with Quade Cooper to start despite his neck problem.
Cooper trained without problem on Monday afternoon as he called the shots in simulated match practice in a strong indicator he’ll play on Saturday night at Canberra Stadium.
After being hospitalised on Friday night following a jolt in the back in the 18-13 trial loss to the Melbourne Rebels, the chances of the enigmatic Wallabies’ playmaker kicking off the season looked slim at best.
But Reds coach Richard Graham and Cooper are both confident he’ll be right to oppose Test teammate Matt Toomua in an intriguing No.10 battle.
Graham indicated before training that his five-eighth would play if he could train with the team.
While shielded from contact at Ballymore, and with his movement partially restricted, Cooper still ran at pace and passed and kicked without difficulty.
“He’s been really positive the whole way along,” Graham said.
“Once he had scans and was cleared of any damage, he’s been really in a good head space and is still very positive and improving.”
Graham also said Queensland would make an early call on his fitness and prepare with back-up Mike Harris at No.10 from the outset instead of playing a game of wait-and-see.
Harris lined up during training at inside-centre where he started in the loss to the Rebels.
Queensland don’t expect the Brumbies to change the aggressive, field-position game plan that led them to last year’s final despite Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher taking control following the departure of South African mentor Jake White.
“They will continue to do what has worked for them the last two years – a strong field position game, squeeze teams defensively, use their driving maul, kick goals.”