BROTH­ERS SET­TLE FOR DRAW

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMPSON

THE twists and turns of Quade Cooper’s con­trac­tual saga roll on, with the pos­si­bil­ity re­main­ing that he will play for Queens­land from 2017- 19 as part of a deal which will al­low him to play Sev­ens at the Olympics next year.

It is be­lieved the goal­posts have changed since the Reds put out a state­ment declar­ing they had ceased ne­go­ti­a­tions with Cooper.

The ARU has re­port­edly agreed to cover Cooper’s wage in full for 2016, which is fair given he will not likely be play­ing Su­per Rugby next year due to his Sev­ens com­mit­ments.

The ARU and a Su­per Rugby fran­chise would then split Cooper’s salary in half from 2017- 19.

Cooper still has a signed two- year con­tract with French glam­our club Toulon and by late yesterday he had not in­di­cated to them that he would re­nege on that deal.

But in all like­li­hood he will, be­cause Cooper is des­per­ate to play Sev­ens in Rio and be­come an Olympian.

When it was re­vealed last month Cooper was to re­main in Aus­tralia to ful­fil his Olympic am­bi­tion and po­ten­tially join the NSW Waratahs, his sour­ing re­la­tion­ship with Queens­land ap­peared ir­repara­ble.

But in­flu­en­tial fig­ures have worked be­hind the scenes over the past fort­night. ROSS River have con­tin­ued to build mo­men­tum in the count­down to fi­nals rugby with a 17- all draw with Broth­ers at Ig­natius Park oval.

The Red­skins kicked a penalty on full- time to share points with the Brethren, who were left de­jected af­ter ap­pear­ing to seal a back- up vic­tory fol­low­ing the pre­vi­ous week­end’s close win over Townsville and Dis­trict Rugby Union com­pe­ti­tion pace set­ters Teach­ers West.

Teach­ers re­turned to form with a 50- 22 thump­ing of Bur­dekin and North Ward main­tained their late sea­son charge with a 42- 20 win over Western Sub­urbs.

Broth­ers co- coach Ben Collings said his team were left to lament a late lapse in con­cen­tra­tion to al­low Ross River a share of the spoils.

“They

just

kept com­ing at us and that’s what hap­pens when you take your foot off the pedal,” Collings said.

“To get that win last week­end and then turn it around with a re­sult like that is pretty dis­ap­point­ing but Ross River are a good team and they prob­a­bly haven’t played at their best for the last cou­ple of weeks. In the end, we’ll take a draw over a loss any day.”

Op­po­nents in last year’s grand fi­nal, the Brethren and Red­skins could still find them­selves fac­ing each other at sea­son’s end, with the teams sit­ting sec­ond and third re­spec­tively. Broth­ers have a bye this week­end, which could come in handy for the de­fend­ing pre­miers as they work to get all parts of their game in place.

“There’s a cou­ple of fun­da­men­tal things around the ruck we re­ally need to get right, be­cause we weren’t able to get our backs in­volved as much as we would have liked,” Collings said. “But our back rowers got around the field re­ally well and stopped a cou­ple of shifts in the mo­men­tum that could

have re­ally hurt us.”

Pic­ture: FIONA HARD­ING

CATCH ME: Red­skins Joseph Veuk­iso looks to break the Broth­ers’ de­fence

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