Quade Cooper and Will Genia roll back the years in Canberra victory
There is a feeling of nostalgia in the air this weekend with Will Genia and Quade Cooper reigniting their Wallabies and Reds partnership in a new jersey, claiming a victory for the Melbourn Rebels in Canberra this weekend. While Genia's Super Rugby return is old news by now, Cooper's resurgence is an interesting talking point to take away from these early days of the 2019 Super Rugby.
There is a feeling of nostalgia in the air this weekend. With Will Genia and Quade Cooper reigniting their Wallabies and Reds partnership in a new jersey, claiming a victory for the Melbourn Rebels in Canberra this weekend. While Genia's Super Rugby return is old news by now, Cooper's resurgence is an interesting talking point to be taken away from these early days of the 2019 Super Rugby season; and the beginning of a huge World Cup year.
Banished from the highest level of Southern Hemisphere club rugby by Queensland Reds boss Brad Thorn, Cooper spent a patient year playing in the National Rugby Championship for Brisbane City, biding his time for a Super Rugby return. Welcomed back into the fold by Rebels boss David Wessels, Cooper started his first game for the Rebels in yesterday's 27-34 victory over the Brumbies, playing in an interesting role under Wessels' gameplan.
As some have done before, Cooper was resigned to defensive duties out of position at fullback, despite wearing the ten jersey, in an attempt to shore up the Melbourn side's defensive line and avoid the mercurial playmaker being exposed in the contact area by hefty forwards or bullocking centres. This saw Cooper's fellow Wallaby Dane Haylett-Petty shifted onto the left wing, with a third Australian international, Marika Koroibete moving forward into the hard defensive line.
While it is far from ideal to be forced into regularly reorganising a defensive set to accommodate Cooper, it cannot be said that the 30-year-old, 58-times-capped standoff brought down the Brumbies rampaging, 100kg plus outside centre Tevita Kuridrani mere metres from the Rebels' tryline, a vital defensive contribution during the first ten minutes of the season-opening weekend clash. A healthy statement of intent for the man hoping to bolster Micheal Cheika's options at fly-half ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Adding to his defensive showing and at least one display of the classic Cooper step to once again bamboozle Kirundrani and gargantuan lock Rory Arnold, Cooper's direction of traffic proved notably pragmatic. With no sign of shirking his duties in the carry and the oh so familiar draw and flick many have come to love over the years, it's a promising start to Cooper's Melbourne career and an astute looking pickup by Wessels.
HIGHLIGHTS: Quade Cooper shone on his return to @SuperRugby as he guided the @MelbourneRebels to a 27-34 victory over @BrumbiesRugby.&m — Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) February 15, 2019
Match highlights https://t.co/VzVwL5tfIS pic.twitter.com/EVkyCpzuZm
While it may be too early to claim the former Reds, Toulon and one-time Barbarians man is on course for a dramatic return to the Australian setup in a World Cup year, the only sour note of his return to the top flight of rugby were three missed kicks off the tee for a 57% success rate from the boot.
The jury is out as to whether Cooper is the man to help reinforce the Wallabies' sparse stores at fly-half, it's great to see one of the biggest names of the last decade back at the top and alongside an old friend and, crucially, a star Rebels and Australia playmaker in Will Genia.