Reds look overseas to replace Cooper

Date published: May 25 2015

With Quade Cooper almost certain to honour his agreement with Toulon, Reds coach Richard Graham has revealed the Australian team may seek a new fly-half from abroad.

Toulon claimed to have sealed a two-year deal with Cooper last month, showing a picture of the Wallaby fly-half wearing a Toulon jersey and shaking the hand of club president Mourad Boudjellal, only for the Australian and Queensland Rugby Unions to insist they were still in negotiations with the player and nothing was set in stone.

But the Sunday Telegraph reported over the weekend that Cooper will indeed be joining the French club at after this year’s World Cup, with the deal to be formalised in public within the next fortnight.

On Monday, Graham was sticking to the official line that Cooper's future in Brisbane was still uncertain but admitted that the club were exploring options for his replacement, including the possibility of bringing in a foreigner.

21-year-old Jake McIntyre has shown plenty of promise playing at 10 in the past fortnight, but Cooper's marketing appeal will have to be replaced by another big name since Will Genia and James Horwill are also leaving.

"[A foreign player] is certainly an option for us," Graham told the Brisbane Times.

"Everyone's in the market place and looking.

"Our first priority is obviously keeping Quade and then on the back of that you've just got to make decisions based on what you know at the time."

Graham said speculation on Cooper has become part of day-to-day life at Ballymore.

"There's been that much speculation for so long I don't think it's worth commenting on," he said.

"Obviously it's there in the background, it's background noise, I can't control it so I'll try not to let it be consuming."

Cooper is a near certainty to play this weekend, meaning he has three more Super Rugby games left for the Reds, which will determine his place in the Wallabies pecking order.

The 27-year-old fly-half is returning from a fractured shoulder blade and only needs to make it through training on Monday to confirm his spot for this weekend's clash with the Western Force.

"Given he was fairly confident last week I can't see any reason why he wouldn't be available for selection this weekend," said Graham.

Cooper needs to play just seven more Tests to reach the 60-cap threshold to become eligible for the Wallabies’ new selection policy on overseas-based players.