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Cooper set for comeback

Australia fly-half Quade Cooper is set to make his long-awaited return from a knee injury in the Reds' Super 15 clash with the Lions at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

The 24-year-old underwent a knee reconstruction after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in Australia's 21-18 World Cup third-place play-off win over Wales at Eden Park last October.

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said earlier this week Cooper was unlikely to line-up against the Lions, with his return originally planned to come against the Brumbies in Canberra on May 26. But the playmaker will start on Saturday night after coming through a fitness test yesterday, his first competitive action in almost seven months.

"It has been a long six-plus months on the sidelines and I know I've done everything I can to tick all the boxes during my rehab and have been as diligent as possible to ensure I am ready to return," Cooper said.

"Everything which could be done has been done and the rest is now out of my hands.

"I'll be going out on Saturday knowing I've done everything within my power to be prepared both physically and mentally and it's now about going out and doing the best that I can for the team."

Cooper's return will be a welcome boost for the Reds, who have struggled so far in the defence of their Super 15 crown, sitting in ninth place in the overall standings with six wins and five losses.

McKenzie admitted his presence would be a welcome one.

"There's no denying Quade has enormous x-factor, but for him this match is about getting back out of the field and getting comfortable again within the matchday environment," McKenzie said.

"It has been a long lay-off for him and the next few weeks before our bye will be invaluable as he again finds his feet. Everyone is excited to see him back out there but it's important we manage him the right way during this period."

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