The Courier-Mail



- JIM TUCKER @hulabulaji­m

QUADE Cooper is throwing an end-of-an-era party for Reds icons Will Genia and James Horwill yet he still won’t say whether he should be sharing the stage with them.

The classy flyhalf’s impressive comeback has ignited high hopes that the Reds can produce a Suncorp Stadium signoff worthy of the duo on Saturday night.

They’ll have to upset the highly ranked Chiefs to do it but anything is possible now Cooper’s sharp direction has transforme­d Super Rugby’s biggest underachie­vers.

The Reds had looked like losers in a kids’ sack race when tripping week after week with fumbling, poorly designed attack or fragile defence.

Last Friday night in Perth, the old firm of Genia and Cooper made them look like chess grandmaste­rs at key moments by thinking a step ahead.

One or both featured in four excellent tries in the 32-10 smacking of Western Force.

Cooper didn’t drop a ball in his first game in eight weeks when returning from a fractured shoulderbl­ade.

Halfback Genia and former skipper Horwill will play for the Reds a final time against the NSW Waratahs in Sydney on June 13 but Saturday is their emotional swan song at Suncorp Stadium.

“It’s an end of an era for them,” Cooper said yesterday.

“It’s a massive loss but Saturday is also a massive celebratio­n of what they’ve done for the Reds and Queensland rugby in general.”

His slick behind- theback pass for Lachie Turner’s first try reminded everyone he must go to the World Cup but a set play with Genia was Cooper’s scrapbook moment.

Genia scooted right from the back of a strong scrum, found a hole and Cooper ran a perfect line to take the pinpoint pass for the score.

“I know with Willy leaving (for French club Stade Francais) things are coming to an end,” Cooper said.

“Our history goes way back and that was such a special moment for us to combine.

“I couldn’t count on my hands the times Willy said ‘it’s good to have you back out there’ in the week before that game and I reciprocat­ed that feeling about him.”

When quizzed about whether Saturday would be his own Brisbane farewell as a Red, Cooper sidesteppe­d whether Australian rugby still had a chance to gazump his Toulon deal in France.

“I treat every game I play for the Reds as potentiall­y my last, especially with the injury run I’ve had,” Cooper said.

He was unconcerne­d by the back spasm which forced him off with 12 minutes left.

 ??  ?? COY: Quade Cooper isn’t saying whether Saturday will be his final home game for the Reds. Picture: Getty Images
COY: Quade Cooper isn’t saying whether Saturday will be his final home game for the Reds. Picture: Getty Images
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