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Lucas unfazed by playmaker challenge as Cooper sits it out

Date

Laine Clark

Ben Lucas clears the ball for the Reds in a Super Rugby game in New Zealand. If the Reds advance after tonight they'll again cross the Tasman for a shot at the high-flying Chiefs.

Ben Lucas clears the ball for the Reds in a Super Rugby game in New Zealand. If the Reds advance after tonight they'll again cross the Tasman for a shot at the high-flying Chiefs. Photo: Getty Images

Stepping into Quade Cooper's shoes would faze most players.

But Queensland fill-in five-eighth Ben Lucas was more concerned with putting the boot into the perception the Reds were a one-man team ahead of their Super Rugby knockout final tonight against the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium.

Lucas is the only change to the Reds' starting line-up that secured a bonus-point win over the NSW Waratahs last weekend to grab a last-gasp finals spot.

However, Cooper was still the name on everyone's lips when Lucas fronted the media yesterday.

The Wallabies five-eighth had not been able to stay out of the news this week after copping a one-game ban for a dangerous tackle on Monday night, prompting the Queensland Rugby Union to agonise for days before opting not to appeal.

The Reds won all five games since his return from a knee injury to help keep their title defence alive.

But Lucas believes critics writing off a Queensland side minus Cooper must have short memories.

"I definitely don't think we are a one-man team. I think we have proven that throughout the year - we have spent most of the year without him," Lucas said.

Statistics back this.

Queensland had a winning (6-5) record without their playmaker and the last time Lucas played five-eighth he inspired an upset 42-27 win over the Chiefs that sparked the current six-game winning run.

Captain Will Genia seemed to bristle at the "one-man team" notion.

"The job is made a little more different without having Quade. He brings that X factor," Genia said.

"But he can't do the things he does without the guys around him doing their job - it's not a one-man team."

The Reds endured a tumultuous week after the QRU finally opted not to appeal Cooper's ban - but not before firing off a "please explain" to SANZAR over a number of issues included perceived judicial inconsistencies.

However, Genia claimed there were no distractions.

"That didn't involve the playing group at all," he said.

What has been on the Reds' minds is their last start against the Sharks.

Again slotting in for Cooper, Lucas troubled the Durban-based side to help Queensland lead 17-0 in the round-four clash before succumbing to a hamstring complaint as the Reds were over run 27-22.

That sparked a 2-5 slide for the Queenslanders.

"We have a burning desire to get one back on them," Lucas said.

The Sharks have their own worries after losing Springboks fullback Pat Lambie (ankle), lock Piet-Steph Toit (ankle) and Test centre Frans Steyn (ineligible) before the long flight to Australia.

Queensland have won 21 of their past 23 games at Suncorp Stadium and boast a 6-2 record over the Sharks in Brisbane.

However, the Reds won't need to be reminded that they topped the inaugural Super Rugby table in 1996, only to be thrashed 43-25 by the Sharks in the first semi-final at Ballymore.

brisbantimes.com.au will be blogging live tonight from Suncorp. Don't miss a minute the action.

- with AAP

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Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
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NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
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ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
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Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
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WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
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WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
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Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
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England 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
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