Queensland coach Brad Thorn has slammed the door shut on Quade Cooper, saying the superstar outcast will remain just that despite admitting the Reds lack inspiration following Saturday night’s Super Rugby drubbing in Sydney.
Thorn also all but ruled out a return for fellow Wallabies back Karmichael Hunt following the Reds’ 37-16 loss to the NSW Waratahs at the SCG.
But it was Thorn’s determination to leave Cooper out in the cold that will most bewilder and frustrate Queensland fans after the Reds’ insipid attacking play yielded just one try – and even that came from an intercept.
Queensland and Wallabies great turned commentator Tim Horan took to Twitter to urge the first-year coach to turn to Cooper to solve the Reds’ woes.
“Think its time now for Brad Thorn to call back @QuadeCooper into Reds team. Have to create opportunities and play with some width,” Horan posted.
But that won’t be happening any time soon, if ever, on Thorn’s watch.
“Quade’s been playing club rugby. He’s been playing well, but we’ve just been working with the guys we’ve got there,” Thorn said when asked if he’d closed the door on the 70-Test playmaker.
When reminded that only he could bring Cooper back into the fold, Thorn appeared to draw a line in the sand.
“Like I said at the start of the season, we’re going in a different direction, so that’s all I’ve got for ya.”
Despite having a cocaine possession charge against him dropped in court last month, Hunt hasn’t been sighted at the Reds since standing himself down following his arrest in late December.
Like Cooper, Reds fans shouldn’t expect to see the dual international back any time soon.
“Yeah well, he hasn’t been in and he’s not playing club rugby at the moment so that doesn’t look to be happening,” Thorn said.
Queensland veteran and stand-in captain James Slipper is backing Thorn’s young side to turn their season around after losing their past three games to lose touch with the Waratahs, Australia’s new conference leaders.
“It’s a disappointing result but I do back the team, definitely,” Slipper said.
“I think we’ve got a great group. We started the season really well. We’re obviously going through a rough patch.
“We haven’t really been the same team coming back from the tour (of Argentina and South Africa), but I think we’ve learnt a lot of lessons along the way.
“We probably learnt a fair bit tonight again, but the big thing is we get to play at home next week. We haven’t played there in six weeks so you feel lost without it a bit.”