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Quade hungry for Lions battle: McKenzie

Date

Jim Morton

Ewen McKenzie says Quade Cooper (above) is passionate about Australian rugby.

Ewen McKenzie says Quade Cooper (above) is passionate about Australian rugby. Photo: Getty Images

Controversial playmaker Quade Cooper is burning with hunger to win the Wallabies' No.10 jersey back and help beat the British and Irish Lions next year, according to Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie.

Describing Cooper as the most passionate rugby player he's encountered, McKenzie said his Reds five-eighth was ready to put his problems with Australian rugby behind him and return to top form for 2013.

"While there's been a lot of talk in recent time I've never ever thought that he wasn't passionate about the Reds, about Australian rugby," he said.

The 24-year-old, currently sidelined following knee surgery, will front an Australian Rugby Union code of conduct hearing in Sydney on Wednesday where his immediate future will be decided following his public criticisms of the code and Wallabies last month.

Cooper has since met with ARU integrity officer Phil Thompson as well as national coach Robbie Deans, while the QRU has also been in high-level discussions on the subject.

McKenzie took the Reds to last year's Super Rugby title and enjoys a remarkable 78 per cent success rate with Cooper as his No.10 since 2010, but bluntly said he had no concerns about losing the 38-Test star.

Cooper re-signed with Queensland on a three-year deal in June but he has yet to formalise that agreement by signing with the ARU.

Reports have suggested he will be fined for his attacks on the Wallabies' "toxic environment" and dour style of play and the punishment could be borne out in a reduced ARU contract.

At the time, Cooper told AAP he hated losing and was the most competitive person he knew and his comments were the result of frustration, especially given they were not challenging the All Blacks with an attacking game plan.

With the crowd-pulling Lions touring next season, McKenzie said Cooper would be hellbent on regaining the playmaking duties from good friend Kurtley Beale, who has starred at five-eighth in Australia's past three Tests.

"He's one of the most competitive guys I've met," the coach said of Cooper on the first day of Reds pre-season training on Monday.

"I'm sure he'll want to play 10 at the highest level he can in front of the biggest crowds he can possibly play. That's him.

"He wants to showcase (his skills) but the thing people miss is that he likes the responsibility of making things happen and have a game plan and taking it on the field.

"He likes that responsibility and we've relied upon him heavily in the last few years to deliver for us and he has.

"He likes to be empowered to do that and he feels that's his job. I've seen no change in him in that sense."

AAP

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
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