Quade Cooper will have to wait one more week to make his Queensland Reds return from injury after missing selection for Friday night’s Super Rugby clash with the Sharks.
Cooper is nearing full fitness after recovering from a shoulder fracture but was not considered for the Sharks match, with coaching staff opting to give him one more week’s rest.
It means the Wallabies playmaker will almost certainly return for next weekend’s away trip to face the Western Force, and gives rookie five-eighth Jake McIntyre another chance to start in front of a home crowd in the interim.
“Quade (Cooper) was pretty close to being available,” coach Richard Graham said.
“His fracture has healed and he is training fully with the team, however we felt it was in his best interests to have another week of strength and contact work.”
The Reds have made just one change to the squad that smashed the Melbourne Rebels last week, with Lachie Turner (concussion) swapped for Chris Kuridrani.
Graham said he was pleased to be able to field a largely settled line-up for once this season.
“It is nice to be able to reward the group for their performance last week and for the first time this season we have only lost one player to injury,” he said.
“That in itself is also a bonus as continuity of selection for the right reasons breeds confidence.
“We need to prepare for this game with the same mental approach as we did the Rebels.
“We were urgent, abrasive and full of running. Anything short of that will negate the efforts of last week.”
Graham said the Reds have to be wary of a response from a Sharks outfit that has lost their past six games in a row.
“They have copped a fair bit of criticism recently and we know all too well how that stings,” he said.
“There is a lot of quality in their squad and they will want to return to South Africa with some wind in their sails for the remaining few games.”
Reds: James O’Connor, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Chris Kuridrani, Jake McIntyre, Will Genia, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Adam Thomson, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Greg Holmes, James Hanson, James Slipper (c). Res: Andrew Ready, Pettowa Paraka, Sam Talakai, Ed O’Donoghue, Lolo Fakaosilea, Nick Frisby, Sam Greene, Ben Tapuai.