Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Howley hails Cooper's talent

07th June 2013 13:26


Quade Cooper Reds v Rebels Sr 2013

Praised: Quade Cooper

British and Irish Lions assistant coach Rob Howley has described Quade Cooper as "hugely talented" ahead of Saturday's clash with the Reds.

Cooper has been left out of the Wallaby squad for the Test series, but will captain the Reds at Suncorp Stadium in what is viewed as the biggest challenge for the Lions so far on tour.

"Quade Cooper has a point to prove," said Howley.

"He is a hugely talented player who will be looking to have the ball in his hands as much as possible.

"It is going to be a tough test. We are delighted they have picked the strongest side they could have done.

"While we stepped up a lot against the (Western) Force on Wednesday, we are under no underestimations about the level we need to hit against the Reds, and that's good. It is what we need.

"The quality of the opposition is going to be a test for our defence. Quade can do anything.

"They obviously want him to have the ball in his hands as much as possible. He will create opportunities for the Reds, there is no doubt about that.

"We've concentrated on our defence because it's going to be key keeping not only Quade Cooper quiet, but a lot of other players in that Reds team as well."

Reds boss Ewen McKenzie explained the decision to hand Cooper the captaincy, highlighting his experience at Test level.

"Quade is a proven winner. The reality is that we win more games with him in the side," said McKenzie.

"But what most people don't know or see is the responsibility and ownership he takes on with regards to our game-plan. Right now, with seven current Wallabies unavailable, he is also our most experienced international player."

Cooper stated that he was humbled to be given the honour of captaining the Reds for such an important fixture.

"The history and tradition that surrounds the Lions obviously speaks for itself, so it will be quite humbling to lead Queensland out on Saturday," said Cooper.

"It's a proud moment any time you get to lead a side, but the fact that I've been at the Reds since I was 15-years-old just adds to the occasion on a personal level."