Genia issues Rebels yell for sidelined Quade
WALLABIES halfback Will Genia has put the call out to his good friend and former title-winning Reds teammate Quade Cooper: let's put the band back together in Melbourne.
Genia said he'd "absolutely love" Cooper - who is on the outer at Brad Thorn's Reds and playing club rugby - to join him at the Rebels after it emerged the Brumbies had offered the 70-Test five-eighth a spot, and Melbourne had also expressed interest.
Cooper is believed to have knocked both back but if the $800,000-a-year sidelined star was convinced to leave the Reds, that could free up cash for the Reds to land disgruntled Israel Folau away from the Waratahs.
Like Cooper, Folau's future is firmly up in the air; he is off-contract at the end of the year and a move to the Reds is on the table after a turbulent year so far.
Folau was in the news again for off-field reasons on Tuesday after the star fullback shared a divisive YouTube video from the late American Christian evangelist David Wilkerson.
The video, which criticises tolerance as a "mistaken belief", prompted further criticism on social media but Folau has shown no sign of backing down from sharing his controversial beliefs.
And though a world away from such serious matters, Cooper remains steadfast, too, in his desire to get back into the Queensland team via Brisbane club rugby.
The Brumbies confirmed on Tuesday they'd been knocked back by Cooper this week and though Melbourne's contact never progressed past in the informal discussion stage, Genia said he still hoped his long-time partner in crime would reconsider a return to Super Rugby.
"I spoke to him just before the start of the season, about what he is doing just as a mate more than anything else," Genia said.
"And I sort of asked him if he'd be keen because we'd love to have him.
"As far as still being keen to have him here - absolutely. I just know as a team we would be better for having someone of his calibre in the group. Just because of the quality of player that he is."
Genia said even if Cooper didn't want to move to Melbourne, he'd love to see his ex-Reds halves ally playing at another Aussie outfit.
"He could add so much to another Super Rugby squad," he said.
Though Thorn has made it clear he sees no future for Cooper at the Reds, Genia said the attacking five-eighth was only just coming into his prime.
"I think as he has gotten older he has gotten better as a player so you can only really test that at this level," Genia said.
"I have no doubt if he came back he would straight away be a star of whatever team he would be in. From my point of view it's just disappointing nothing has been worked out, either coming here or at the Brumbies."
Genia injured his knee in Melbourne's heavy loss to the Crusaders last Friday but after initial fears he could miss over two months of football, the diagnosis has improved and he should be back to take on Ireland in June with the Wallabies.
"The knee is pretty good," Genia said.
"I thought it was a grade three initially which is 10-12, but it's only grade two so it's four weeks. Initial signs with my rehab already, it takes me up to that first week of the first Test."