Reds coach Richard Graham says it's time to end the debate about Quade Cooper's defence as the five-eighth continues to improve on one of the most critically analysed aspects of his game.
The Reds showed impressive defensive intent as they knuckled down against the Brumbies and that collective effort will be tested further against the Waratahs, who poured 43 points on the Western Force on Sunday.
While players like Lachie Turner produced try-saving efforts, Cooper operated without fanfare in the front line, amassing five tackles and missing none as the Reds surged to a 27-17 victory.
With the impressive Aidan Toua proving to be a highly dangerous returner of the ball from fullback as well as being armed with a sturdy left boot, Graham said Cooper's days of defending behind the line were now behind him.
Graham said he would deploy Cooper in the trenches against the Waratahs with complete confidence as the Reds try to knock over both of their Australian conference arch rivals on the road within their first two matches.
"You shoot back to bare statistics. He defends well. I'm going to continue to defend him in the front line and play him there with confidence," Graham said.
Cooper's defensive frailties have been crucial to any number of selection debates at Wallaby level. Robbie Deans put it front and centre when he left Cooper out of the squad to face the British and Irish Lions on account of his perceived weakness in the front line.
Ewen McKenzie often played Cooper at fullback for tactical reasons, which was at odds with Deans' demands as national coach. Cooper has put the case beyond doubt now after working diligently on his technique over the past 12 months.
Graham said Cooper went forward leaps and bounds last season as he compiled an 80 per cent tackling effectiveness score for the Reds.
"I toured with him in 2009 for the Wallabies. He played number 12 and I thought that year he defended well. Certainly last year I thought he took a step forward in defence," Graham said.
"He continued on and in the game the other night, I think he was 100 per cent, a clean sheet."
Cooper won't be the only one to be put under the defensive microscope against the Waratahs given the impact of Israel Folau against the Force.
The league and AFL convert looked more comfortable than ever as he scored three tries. His name was on everyone's lips as the Reds began preparations for their traditional derby.
Will Genia said Folau looked good and would only get better, saying he couldn't believe how quickly the Tahs fullback had adapted to the 15-man code.
"I honestly didn't think he was going to be as good as he is," Genia said. "It's incredible how quickly he picked up the game.
"I think he can get better. He's got that remarkable thirst to want to be better and there's areas he wants to improve."
Genia said he would likely shelve the box kick and spend most of the night booting the cover off the ball to ensure Folau has to play deep and not get attacking opportunities mid-field.
"We'll look to kick long," he said. "We won't kick contestable kicks to Israel because we know he's going to catch them 99 per cent of the time."
Graham said he would be trying to devise a plan to limit Folau's opportunities in the game. But he admits it's going to be difficult to keep him quiet all evening.
"I think it's important to control his entry points. You're not going to keep him out of the game. You have to try and control the way he influences the game."