The Queensland Reds are poised to complete the signing of returning Wallabies five-eighth Quade Cooper after locking in Nick Stiles as their new head coach.
Cooper last week endorsed Stiles, his former mentor with Brisbane City in the National Rugby Championship, as his preferred selection as Reds boss as he prepares for a Super Rugby return.
The mercurial 28-year-old has signed a heads of agreement with the Australian Rugby Union after leaving Toulon earlier this month, allowing him to become immediately eligible for the Wallabies, but he is yet to commit to a franchise.
However, Stiles’ appointment makes it a foregone conclusion that Cooper will be back at Ballymore in 2017.
“I’ve got a good relationship with Quade. He’s a Queensland Red, he’s passionate about the place and hopefully we can get that sorted moving forward,” Stiles told reporters on Tuesday.
Cooper, who was also being courted by the Melbourne Rebels, is currently training with the Wallabies in Sydney and remains in regular contact with the Queensland Rugby Union, according to executive general manager Daniel Herbert.
“He’d really round out our team list very well for 2017 if he did (come back),” Herbert said.
However, Cooper is likely to be the Reds’ final major signing for next year, with Herbert ruling them out of any moves for Will Genia or Digby Ioane – the latter who is reportedly set to join the Crusaders.
“You never say never, guys who’ve done for this place what they’ve done, you’ll always consider if they approach you and if there was a way to make it work,” he said.
“But it’s not about rewinding the clock, we have to move forward.”