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Wallaby Quade Cooper relishing second chance to shine

Quade Cooper admits he could never have forced his way back into the Australia side without "world's-best scrum-half" Will Genia.

Livewire attacking fly-half Cooper's Wallabies career lay in ruins during the summer's British and Irish Lions tour.

The 25-year-old playmaker was frozen out by then coach Robbie Deans after branding the squad atmosphere "toxic".

New Zealander Deans was unseated after the 2-1 series defeat to the Lions and new boss Ewen McKenzie quickly drafted Cooper back in.

McKenzie coached maverick talent Cooper at Queensland Reds, and that prior relationship paved the way for an international reconciliation.

But Cooper has now revealed close friend and club-mate Genia has had a big hand too.

The 47-cap outside-half explained: "It's a great relationship on and off the field; when you get on well off the field that tends to translate onto it.

"We first played together for Queensland Under-16s. We've been fortunate enough to play alongside each other for many years now.

"It's about going out there week on week with one of your best mates, and representing your country and doing it proud.

"Will's the best half-back in the world in my eyes, so I'm very fortunate to play outside him.

Cooper's past misdemeanours seem to have given him pause for thought.

After his international hiatus, the wily line-breaker admitted it is exciting to be firmly back in the fold, especially given his vice-captain status under McKenzie.

"I enjoy being in Ireland," he said. "Hopefully I can catch up with the family that billeted me in 2005 when I was here for the Australian Schoolboys tour."

Cooper admitted he is relishing the match-up with Racing Metro's Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton.

Fired up by the former Leinster outside-half's bullish approach, Cooper continued: "He's a class player, he's shown that for many years now.

"He's very skilful and very competitive. That's what I love to see in opposition players."

Belfast Telegraph


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