Cooper a bolter for Reds side on Coast
MERCURIAL five-eighth Quade Cooper could be the star attraction when the Queensland Reds play an exhibition against the Hurricanes at Stockland Sunshine Coast Stadium next month.
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie travelled to the Coast yesterday to announce the surprise staging of the June 15 game against the New Zealand franchise.
The match has been scheduled when Super Rugby is on a one-month mid-season break so the Wallabies can play a match against Scotland and three games against Wales.
The Reds will be without their Test stars, but with Cooper a long shot to be picked for the Wallabies given he has not played since injuring his knee at the World Cup last October, it is possible he could get a much-needed hitout against the Hurricanes. Queensland has two more matches before the break, and McKenzie yesterday said his star playmaker was close to being passed fit.
"There's no point rushing things one way or the other," he said.
"He's not far away, but we've got a five-week gap. So you can rush him in there and get half a game and then you've got a gap.
"I don't know if he's going to be in the Test football frame. In the end the good thing is he's not far away."
When asked if Cooper could play on the Coast, McKenzie said: "I haven't actually looked that far ahead. It depends on what happens with the Wallabies selections."
He said the Hurricanes clash presented a great opportunity for some of the Reds' fringe players to get more game time.
"They're all guys that we've been relying upon, so it's a chance for them to put their hand up and show where they're at," he said.