Quade Cooper 100% to start against Brumbies
February 18, 2014
Greg Growden previews the Australian Super Rugby conference
Quade Cooper holds no hard feelings towards Lopeti Timani for the tackle that sent him to hospital after the Super Rugby trial against Melbourne Rebels at Ballymore, but he believes the game's lawmakers should consider outlawing tackles that are already banned in rugby league after "one of the scariest moments" of his career.
Cooper confirmed on Tuesday that he would play in Queensland Reds' Super Rugby season-opener, against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night, after completing a second session since the tackle that sent him to hospital.
"I don't harbour any hard feelings towards any of the Rebels for the way they played the game; they played with great physicality," Cooper said. "That's what you sign up for when you play rugby. There was a bit of a 'crusher tackle' about it, but at the end of the day freak accidents happen all the time. I am happy I came out unscathed."
Cooper said when asked if officials should consider banning crusher-type tackles: "There are always areas that can be investigated. Rugby league have really cracked down on those sorts of tackles. They have taken out the shoulder charge which has helped in bringing down the concussion rate.
"I think there are only rules about lifting tackles in rugby. You can 'chicken wing', 'crusher tackle'. I don't think there is anything stopping you from doing that - [but] that's for other people to look at."
National Rugby League officials this year have stepped up a campaign to eliminate the crusher tackle, by which a tackled player's head and neck are pressured so much that the neck usually comes in contact with the chest. Warriors utility Dominique Peyroux will miss the opening round of the NRL premiership after pleading guilty to a crusher tackle during a trial match against Gold Coast Titans.
"At the end of the day we are the ones playing the game and if we thought there was too much risk we wouldn't be playing the game," Cooper said. "You can't rule everything out. You just have to get on with it."
Cooper feared he might never play again as he was taken away by ambulance on Friday night.
"It was one of the scariest moments of my footy career," he said. "In the ambulance thinking I may never get the chance to play again put life in perspective and that you should never take anything for granted."
Despite those fears, Reds coach Richard Graham said on Monday that Cooper had been "really positive the whole way along; once he had scans and was cleared of any damage, he's been really in a good head space and is still very positive and improving."
Cooper wore neck strapping at training on Tuesday, but the Wallabies vice-captain ruled out wearing protective gear against the Brumbies.
"I am not a big fan of strapping. I don't feel comfortable," he said. "Medically I have got the all clear. It is up to me and I am 100% [certain he can play]."
Cooper's announcement is music to the ears of Matt Toomua, with the Brumbies fly-half keen to get the better of the incumbent Wallabies No.10 in Canberra.
The duo have been tussling over a No.10 jersey since their Queensland schoolboys days, and the episode stepped up another notch when Cooper reclaimed the Wallabies' primary playmaking role from Toomua during the 2013 Test season. Toomua finished the season at No.12.
"Me and [Nic] White are one of the back-up [Wallabies halves pairings] so we're trying to push for that selection and try and prove ourselves," Toomua said of the halfback battle against Genia and Cooper.
"I don't want to harp on because it's a team effort, but you're definitely lying if you say you don't." Cooper attracts almost unparalleled media attention in Australia with his razzle-dazzle style, while Toomua has built his game around a steady-as-you-go approach complemented by a booming right boot and rib-rattling tackles.
But Toomua says he won't limit Cooper's influence simply by shooting up in defence and cutting down his space. "You bring a few guys with you and you don't just do it mindlessly," Toomua said. "Guys like Quade and Will, you can't defend individually because you won't get them; it's got to be within a system.
"We've got a few ideas how we'll do that. It's definitely something that's been spoken about."
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