Reds want Cooper to play in trial
The Queensland Reds are planning for controversial playmaker Quade Cooper to be pulling the strings in their opening hit-out of 2013 - six days before his boxing debut.
Cooper is on the undercard of Sonny Bill Williams' February 8 heavyweight bout with Francois Botha in Brisbane and is also set to train with Williams in Japan next month.
But the Reds, trying to broker a peace deal with the Australian Rugby Union, still expect him to honour his unratified three-year contract and play in their first Super Rugby trial on February 2.
Queensland coaching director Ewen McKenzie wants all his fit players to turn out against the Blues at the Toowoomba Sports Ground, and Cooper's no exception.
"He's signed with us and I'm progressing on that basis," McKenzie said. "Everyone will play; how much time will vary depending on what's going on.
"So we'll see what the circumstances are like at the time."
Queensland has yet to announce its opponents and date for its second and last pre-season trial, a week before its season-opener against the Brumbies in Canberra.
The Reds will also want Cooper to play the second match, if possible, as they traditionally like to run out their strongest team.
"We've got to get off to a flyer," McKenzie said. "We've got the Brumbies and then the Waratahs at home so we have to make sure we're ready to go."
With Will Genia recovering from a knee reconstruction and young gun Nick Frisby also returning from surgery, utility back Ben Lucas is likely to start the season at halfback.
In a blow to the Reds' second-row depth, rising lock Dave McDuling has undergone a second knee reconstruction a year after rupturing the ACL in his "good" knee.