"[He's] one of the most competitive guys I've met. He'll want to play 10 at the highest level he can and in front of the biggest crowds he possibly can. That's him" ... Reds coach Ewen McKenzie on Quade Cooper. Photo: Getty Images
Quade Cooper was looking relaxed and contented as he continued rehab on his knee on day one of the Reds' pre-season. Ewen McKenzie said he wasn't concerned Queensland would have a Cooper-shaped hole in the back line for next year's Super Rugby campaign.
If a storm is coming, then the calm is already in place at Ballymore. Now all they have to do is batten down the hatches and make it through the week.
Cooper will front an ARU code of conduct hearing in Sydney tomorrow as he finally faces the music for comments about the toxic state of the Wallabies and their dull style under Robbie Deans.
He will face a fine and/or a suspension. But after initial reports he had become so estranged from his own game that he would head overseas or change codes, it appears he will remain at the Reds.
McKenzie insisted Cooper still had a burning desire to play rugby. ''You can go back and trawl over the circumstances,'' McKenzie said. ''If you had your time again, you'd hope things would have happened differently. I think we need to get to the end of it.''
Cooper's future was questioned after he told Fox he would not accept a Wallabies jersey under the current regime. But McKenzie said Cooper remained one of the most passionate and competitive players he had dealt with. ''He loves the game, he loves playing … I've never, ever thought he wasn't passionate about the Reds or about Australian rugby,'' he said.
''[He's] one of the most competitive guys I've met. He'll want to play 10 at the highest level he can and in front of the biggest crowds he possibly can. That's him.''