Reds to unleash a beast of their own
One to watch ... Feauai-Sautia. Photo: Getty Images
THE Waratahs are bringing Israel Folau to town on Saturday night but Reds five-eighth Quade Cooper says the Queenslanders have a ball-running beast of their own in former schoolboy star Chris Feauai-Sautia.
F'Sautia was one of the few attacking bright sparks for the Reds in their first-round loss to the Brumbies and has been stunning his teammates with his strength on the training paddock.
The general consensus at Ballymore is the sky is the limit for the softly spoken teenager, who has played just four Super Rugby games but already looms as a key weapon for the Reds in 2013.
Now 19, F'Sautia was signed by the Reds while still at Brisbane State High School and despite seeing relatively few minutes with injury, has done enough to suggest he can live up to his billing as one of Australian rugby's best back-line prospects.
Cooper said the powerfully built F'Sautia, who combines speed and an impressive ability to break tackles, had earned the nickname "Beast Mode" in honour of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
"His nickname is 'Beast Mode' for a reason. He's a freak. He's so powerful, he's fast, and now he's starting to get confidence," Cooper said. "Around training, around the hotel, he's coming out of his shell. We're always having running jokes where he says he's going to tap me out."
He might joke about putting Cooper to sleep but if the Waratahs defence nods off at any point, he has the skills to make it hurt.
In between icing his troublesome hamstrings in 2012, F'Sautia scored two tries in 125 minutes of rugby and averaged a line break once every four times he touched the ball.
Cooper said some of his antics at training had the rest of the squad rubbing their eyes in disbelief. "It was a drill and there was less than five metres of space," he said. "He broke through three of our best defenders; step, bump, bump, fend, then jumped over one of them.
We were like, 'Did that just happen'? Then he did it again for a second time."