Cooper still fuming over ban
Water boy duties have not helped Queensland Reds playmaker Quade Cooper cool down over his Super Rugby suspension judging by a tweet that may land him in more trouble.
Reduced to the support role for the Reds’ knockout final against the Sharks in Brisbane on Saturday night, Cooper tweeted following the match: “SANZAR = lottery”.
But Reds coach Ewen McKenzie refused to cry foul after a Cooper-less Queensland’s title defence ended with a 30-17 loss to the Sharks, snapping their six-game winning run.
McKenzie had plenty to lament after his final game before handing the reins to Richard Graham and becoming Reds director of coaching.
Not only had the Reds lost Cooper to a controversial dangerous tackle ban, his replacement Ben Lucas (ankle) was carried off and hooker Saia Faingaa suffered a corked bicep by the 22nd minute against the Sharks.
One minute later the Reds trailed 17-0 as the Sharks went on to book a semi-final clash with the Stormers, prompting a scathing post-match analysis from Queensland captain Will Genia.
But McKenzie believed the Reds were in good shape as they headed into the club’s bold new era.
“There’s a lot of things to be positive about,” he said after the Reds lost only their third game in 24 Suncorp Stadium clashes.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the Brumbies having a great season but in the end our team’s average age is younger than theirs so we’ve got a lot of football ahead of this group.
“I’ve been involved for three years and a lot of the guys have come into the program and they’ve developed as players into Wallabies.
“It wasn’t a great one (on Saturday night) but we will dust ourselves off and keep going.”
The Reds have the potential to groom more into Wallabies after Cooper and teammates Liam Gill, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Jake Schatz, Radike Samo, Ben Tapuai and James Hanson were all called up for a national training camp in Sydney from August 1-3.
That will result in a 30-man Wallabies squad for the inaugural Rugby Championship.
Regular halfback Genia was rested from the camp along with Digby Ioane.
Genia may need the time off to calm down after his heroics as fill-in five-eighth No.2 were not enough to stop the Sharks.
“If we lost and played well to a better side you’d could cop it a bit easier – but we were poor,” he said.
Just like their round-four clash against the Sharks, Genia moved in at No.10 after Lucas went down injured.
But Sharks coach John Plumtree didn’t see it coming.
“I was a little surprised that they didn’t put (inside centre Mike) Harris at 10,” Plumtree said.
“Will allowed us into the game because he was throwing a lot of skip passes and we read that.”
Durban referee Jonathan Kaplan was booed off the ground but most Queensland fans saw red over the TV match official denying Gill a 57th minute try, citing inconclusive grounding.
“(TV commentator) Rod Kafer is independent and he said it was a try – that’s all I have to go with right now,” McKenzie said.© AAP 2013
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