Queensland ready to run hot - Quade Cooper
February 6, 2014
Quade Cooper has dismissed the loss of Ewen McKenzie, saying Queensland Reds' Super Rugby expectations are now greater in 2014 under Richard Graham.
Graham will debut as the Reds' head coach in the pre-season trial against the defending champion Chiefs in Toowoomba on Saturday, and Test five-eighth Cooper has full faith in the new coach.
McKenzie masterminded Queensland's transformation, taking them from perennial cellar-dwellers to 2011 champions in two seasons with an up-tempo, expansive game plan. He also guided the young Reds outfit to finals finishes in the past two seasons to ascend to the Wallabies coaching role. But Cooper, whose career has blossomed under McKenzie, doesn't see the change of boss as a hindrance to a more experienced and "complete" team.
"I think the expectation is even greater," Cooper said. "We've been thereabouts for the last couple of years and now we want to get back to the top.
"We don't want to ride on the coat-tails of 2011. A lot of people look back to those years and say 'can we revisit that?'. We don't won't to revisit, we want to reinvent ourselves and be a better team than we were then."
Queensland's major problem in 2013 was their inability to score tries, dropping to the third-worst attacking side with fewer than two five-pointers per game. They have also lost strike winger Digby Ioane to French club Stade Francais, but Cooper says the growth of the side will be shown as they evolve in 2014.
"I think we are becoming a more complete team. The more experience we get, myself, Will [Genia] and other guys in key positions are getting even better than we were back then."
Key to improved potency will be the extra dimension gained by giving their inside centre more playmaking responsibility, and Cooper is excited by the "red-hot" pre-season battle between Mike Harris and Ben Tapaui at No.12.
British sprinters Dwain Chambers and Richard Kilty won their 60m heats to progress to Saturday's semi-finals at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot
Leyton Hewitt moved within one victory of becoming the third active ATP Tour player to win 600 matches after seeing off fellow Australian Matthew Ebden 7-6(2) 3-6 6-3 in the first round at Indian Wells
Chris Gayle has suggested England are substantially weaker without Kevin Pietersen and believes terminating his contract was "disrespectful"
Maria Sharapova believes men's grand slam matches should be played over three sets instead of five to make them more "exciting"
Manchester United boss David Moyes has admitted his surprise at seeing Robin van Persie play 90 minutes for the Netherlands on Wednesday when he had spent the previous day laid low in bed through illness
With just two rounds left in the 2014 championship, the intensity cranks up a notch at Twickenham. Tom Hamilton previews the weekend's action
Only Chelsea and Liverpool can win the Premier League this season, despite Jose Mourinho's claims
Australian Rugby Union officials in recent times have "lacked authority" when negotiating with New Zealand and South Africa, and they need to show "more backbone" when pushing national causes, Greg Growden reports
Tottenham have not won a game at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea since 1990, but there revival under Tim Sherwood could see them upset the odds in this London derby
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year
Cristiano Ronaldo has played down his latest record, claiming landmarks come naturally to him
Eden Hazard believes he can surpass Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to be the best player in the world - but knows he needs to be twice the player he is at the moment to achieve his goal
Samir Nasri insists Arsene Wenger is a "magician" and believes criticism of his former manager about his lack of trophies is unfair
Mesut Ozil continued to face criticism as he was jeered by a section of Germany fans during his nation's 1-0 friendly win over Chile in Stuttgart
David Moyes was in attendance for France's 2-0 friendly win against the Netherlands in Paris on Wednesday to scout Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba as he considers how to rebuild his Manchester United squad
Join Gareth Davies, Ben Blackmore and Chris Park each week for the latest news, views and debate from the UFC
Once prone to putting his head down and looking the other way when walking past fans on the street, Andy Murray is finding lots of reasons to look them in the eye
'I'm glad that Vasyl Lomachenko is a pro and I'm also glad that he lost on Saturday,' writes ESPN's resident boxing expert Steve Bunce
The waiting is finally over after it was announced that 82-year-old Nick Bollettieri will be enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame later this summer