Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper says his heart has always been at Ballymore after sealing his return to Super Rugby with the Queensland Reds.
After one season in France and a failed attempt at making the Rio Olympics sevens, Cooper has signed a three-year deal that will keep him in Australian rugby through to the 2019 World Cup.
The 28-year-old had signed a heads of agreement with the Australian Rugby Union several weeks ago, allowing him to return to the Wallaby fold while he mulled over offers from both the Reds and the Melbourne Rebels.
However, Cooper said he only really ever had one destination in mind.
“For me, there’s no place like Ballymore,” he said on Thursday.
“I’ve spent pretty much the best part of my life here, around my family and friends. I’ve spent more time here than I have at home.
“I looked at my life and where I wanted to go and what was important to me, and that was bringing this club back to the top.
“Seeing what’s ahead, we’ve got an exciting bunch of guys, a new coach, there’s things that are happening here and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Cooper is the latest in a series of key signings the Reds have made that should help them return as a competitive force after several barren seasons.
Australia captain Stephen Moore and evergreen flanker George Smith have also agreed to join Queensland, complimenting a squad that also includes a number of likely future Wallabies such as promising front-row pair Andrew Ready and Taniela Tupou.
“You don’t win championships without quality halves,” coach Nick Stiles said.
“By bringing Quade into this squad, you’re bringing in that absolute quality.
“One of the things I like about him most is he’s a competitor, and to win championships, you want those competitors in your side.”