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Reds haven't given up hope on Cooper

Controversial Reds pivot Quade Cooper.

Controversial Reds pivot Quade Cooper. Photo: Getty Images

Quade Cooper's relationship with Robbie Deans and the ARU might radiate about as much warmth as a polar icecap but the Queensland Reds haven't given up hope of retaining their star five-eighth for coming Super Rugby seasons.

While the ARU has remained silent on Cooper's stinging criticism of what he described as a "toxic environment", the Reds have continued their discussions with Cooper in the hope he can be persuaded to stay with the code.

At the moment, it is almost certain Cooper will look elsewhere next season unless there is drastic change on the Wallabies landscape. He is out of favour with Deans and given the critical output from Cooper over the past week, their presence in Camp Wallaby is surely mutually exclusive.

But the communication lines remain open with Ballymore. Cooper spoke with Reds chief executive Jim Carmichael last night and it's believed he indicated he was still enthusiastic about playing rugby in Queensland, where he has become a major face of the reborn Reds.

Without an ARU component to the three-year deal agreed upon in June, that can't happen, meaning either Cooper and his management will have to bite the bullet and deal with the ARU or they will test his worth on the open market, potentially in the NRL.

Given the conservative tactics employed by Deans and Cooper's battle to fit comfortably into that system of play, the Wallabies may be happy to look elsewhere for a regular number 10.

But that's unlikely to be much solace for the Reds, who face losing one their most marketable faces just as crowds and memberships reach record levels.

Cooper is one of the most divisive players ever to play the game in Australia. Yesterday's story on Fairfax Media websites about his potential move to rugby league attracted hundreds of comments, some backing his outspoken stance and others bidding him good riddance.

But there can be no argument of the popularity of Cooper in Queensland and his part in reinvigorating the code after years in the doldrums. His willingness to innovate and attack helped make the Reds the toast of the game in 2011, when they won the Super Rugby title.

As a result of that success and a targeted marketing push off the field, the Reds now average higher crowds than the Brisbane Broncos and have increased their membership from a woeful 6225 in 2009 to 32,640 at the end of last season. For a brand formerly on death's door, it remains a staggering effort.

The building blocks are now in place to ensure that momentum remains in spite of player movements. But losing a high profile, media friendly entertainer who was thought to be staying for a further three years won't lift many spirits in Brisbane should no common ground be found.

Cooper's Wallabies team-mate Adam Ashley-Cooper was the man put forward the national side as they prepare for their Test against the Springboks in Pretoria. He said Cooper's comments were no distraction to their preparation.

"There's a great buzz in the squad and we're excited to be here," Ashley-Cooper said.

"We've had two good wins in this competition and we feel we're building as a group."

But while Ashley-Cooper is painting a happy picture, there's little doubt other players in the Wallabies set-up share similar gripes to those aired clumsily by Cooper over the weekend.

Whether they also speak up could depend heavily on results in Africa and Argentina over coming weeks.

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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
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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
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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
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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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
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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
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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
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
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