Ben Lucas has been handed suspended playmaker Quade Cooper's No. 10 jersey for the Queensland Reds' Super Rugby qualifying final tonight against the Sharks.
Utility back Lucas is the only change to the starting line-up that secured a bonus-point win over the Waratahs last round to grab a finals spot. Defending champions the Reds will try to put a tumultuous week behind them when they run out for the sudden-death clash in front of an expected 45,000-strong Suncorp Stadium crowd.
The Queensland Rugby Union was still exploring a possible appeal against Cooper's one-match ban after studying a transcript of Monday night's judicial hearing.
The QRU believes there are grounds to challenge Cooper's suspension for a dangerous tackle on NSW centre Berrick Barnes but dismissed the option an hour before the Thursday 8pm appeal deadline.
The Reds won six from 11 games this year while Cooper was recovering from a knee injury and then all five with their playmaker back on the field. But the Reds have full faith in Lucas, who inspired an upset win over the Chiefs playing at No. 10 in Cooper's absence - a victory that has sparked their current six-game winning run.
''Ben has been training at 10 all week and the guys around him are very comfortable with the direction he gives the team as he has gained plenty of experience in the playmaking role during the last two seasons,'' Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said.
Queensland have won 21 of their last 23 games at Suncorp Stadium.