Cooper reaches milestone for Reds

Date published: April 30 2014

Reds fly-half Quade Cooper will make his 100th appearance when the Brisbane-based franchise face the Blues in Auckland on Friday.

Reds fly-half Quade Cooper will make his 100th appearance, for the Brisbane-based franchise, after being named in the starting XV for Friday's clash with the Blues in Auckland.

Cooper made his debut for the Reds in 2007 as an 18-year-old and is now in his eighth season of Super Rugby.

In that time, Cooper has grown to become an integral member of the Reds attack, with highlights including a Super Rugby title in 2011, captaining his state against the British and Irish Lions in 2013 and becoming Queensland's highest-ever points scorer in Super Rugby after breaking Elton Flatley's record earlier this year.

Cooper said he was pleased to reach the 100-cap milestone, but that a win on Friday night would make it all the more special.

“I'm very proud,” he told the Reds' official website.

“To play one game for Queensland is a great honour, so to get the opportunity to stay in the game long enough to play 100 games, I'm very fortunate,” Cooper said.

“First and foremost for me is focusing on getting a win for the team. I'd much rather the team success come before my own accolades.”

Reds head coach Richard Graham has made four changes to the starting line-up for the Eden Park encounter.

In the forwards, Greg Holmes and Liam Gill return to the starting line-up. Holmes is back at tighthead prop, with Ben Daley moving to the bench and James Slipper shifting to loosehead. Gill is back for the first time since injuring his hamstring five weeks ago and will start at openside flanker, with Beau Robinson moving to the bench.

In the backs, Rod Davies and Anthony Fainga'a return to the starting fifteen, with Jamie-Jerry Taulagi and Ben Lucas to the bench. Davies will go to left wing and Fainga'a to inside centre, with Mike Harris moving to fullback.

“We've made the changes based on performance but also on the team we're playing,” said Graham.

“Their scrum is very experienced with an All Blacks front row. We have made the appropriate changes we feel necessary to give us a strong platform in the early stages.

“Beau (Robinson) has performed very well for us as our starting openside, however with Liam's form prior to injury and as a genuine lineout option, I thought it was important to bring him straight into the starting side.

“With Anthony Fainga'a back in the midfield, his defence and work ethic is well regarded and he'll do a very good job for us there. Mike Harris at fullback provides us with a big body in the back three and also an alternative link to Quade.

“For this game, Rod's inclusion in the back three demonstrates a need for experience and he brings genuine speed.”

Graham added the team needed little motivation to secure an important victory and mark Cooper's 100th cap with success.

“It's a special achievement for Quade. He displays an enormous amount of pride in the Reds jersey and has thrilled Queensland fans for a number of years now,” Graham said.

“We all understand the importance of this game in the context of our season.”

The Reds and Blues have met 19 times in Super Rugby, with Queensland winning 10 and drawing one. The Reds have won their last four clashes with the Blues, with the most recent a 21-11 victory at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Reds: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Rod Davies, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Ben Lucas, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.

Date: Friday, May 2
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:35 (local, 07:35 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)