Samu Kerevi will captain the Queensland Reds in 2019 as the Super Rugby club moves on from the departure of James Slipper, Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt.
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Quade Cooper is confident a “clear and detailed” three-way agreement will take him from frustrated spectator to Australian sevens playmaker next month in Las Vegas.
Cooper flew all the way from France only to watch from the sidelines as Australia produced their best world series performance this season to make the final of the Sydney 7s and lead New Zealand until the final play of the tournament.
It was his delayed arrival, a week late, due to French club Toulon’s playmaker injury crisis that meant coach Andy Friend opted against handing the Wallabies five-eighth a risky debut in Sydney.
But Cooper has revealed a comprehensive plan has been put in place to allow that debut to happen in the next world series round in Las Vegas on March 4-6.
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The agreement made by his management, Toulon and the ARU has the timing of releases to the sevens program spelt out so he can also play tournaments in Paris and London in May, as well as train in a four to six-week program before the Rio Olympics.
“We worked that out after last weekend’s issues,” Cooper told AAP before flying back to France on Monday.
“We sorted it all out so we could make it clear for everyone, it just makes it a lot easier to work with.”
While the ARU are confident Cooper will play three tournaments, there remain some underlying concerns about what could occur if Toulon again lose fellow playmakers Matt Giteau and Frederic Michalak to injury.
“Those are the things we can have a discussion about but there’s a clear and detailed plan of where I’ll be and what times I’ll be there,” Cooper said.
“I’ve got two employers and I have to work with both of them.
“(But) I know that is there for me to fall back on and that is the plan I will use.”
Australia showed in Sydney they could be genuine medal contenders at the Rio Games without Cooper but the highly-skilled showman is seen as a missing piece in their puzzle.
He’s confident he has enough time to adapt, and admitted being among the team in Sydney to gain valuable insights on tournament play had helped.
“It’s a different concept to get my head around and a different way to prepare as well,” he said. “I’ve been able to watch the guys, take notes and I’ll be better for it come Las Vegas.”
The man most under threat from Cooper’s conversion, starting five-eighth Lewis Holland, stepped up to deliver a career-best best performance in Sydney, showing there’s going to be intense competition for a position.
Cooper was most impressed by the “heart” of the hard-working Thunderbolts.
“That’s the signature of the Aussie sevens team, the heart and work-rate that we play with, but seeing it first hand and seeing how hard the guys go, and the mateship we have there, I’m excited to be a part of that.
“I hope to add to that.”