Cooper a top rugby playmaker: McKenzie
Coach Ewen McKenzie has pumped up Quade Cooper’s tyres before Queensland renew Super Rugby hostilities with NSW at the weekend describing him as the best playmaker he has coached.
With the Reds needing a big game from Cooper against the Waratahs to keep them in the hunt for a wildcard for the Super Rugby finals, McKenzie heaped praise on his match winner at a charity lunch featuring six of the state’s best coaches from varying sporting teams.
Asked how important Cooper’s contribution was to the Reds, the former NSW player and coach and ex-Wallaby prop said his unpredictable No.10 was the most influential player he had coached.
“I think everyone understands what Quade can bring to the team,” he told guests at the cross-code lunch at Suncorp Stadium.
“The way we play the game, Quade is very important – not just the skill side of it. He’s a great thinker with great observational skills.
“He can see an opportunity on the field and play to it.
“He’s the best playmaker I’ve been involved with as a coach to deliver a game plan.
“He can weave a game plan into how he plays and he loves the challenge of going out there and making it happen.”
Cooper, who took nine months to fully recover from a knee injury sustained during the World Cup, hasn’t played a lot for Queensland this season, as McKenzie pointed out.
“Quade’s played two full games and two half games for us this year so he hasn’t been there much, yet we’re still in contention for the finals,” he said.
“We can do it without him, but it’s certainly a bit easier when he’s there.”
The Reds coach said Queensland needed to put together the “perfect” game against NSW in Brisbane to keep the defence of their Super Rugby title alive.
“We’ve come back really well this season and we’re basically only two wins less than last season in a pretty hot competition with a lot of teams doing really well,” he said.
“We’re going to concentrate on winning the game and playing the best we can.
“If we score four tries, great, or six – even better – and if we score 10 tries …
“We just have to play the best we can and see what happens with the other results overnight in South Africa.”© AAP 2013