Injured Reds fly-half Quade Cooper has backed unknown rookie Duncan Paia’aua to fill in as his replacement over the few first few months of the new season.
Cooper is set to miss the first three months of Super Rugby after fracturing his collarbone in a “freak accident” during a training match against the Reds’ U20 side.
And although former Wallabies fly-half James O’Connor is in the Brisbane-based franchise’s squad, 20-year-old Paia’aua is the favourite to take over from Cooper.
Paia’aua joined the Reds from NRL side the Brisbane Broncos after helping them to win the National Youth Competition grand final in the 13-man code last season.
He is set to wear the number 10 jersey when the Reds face the Melbourne Rebels in a warm-up match in Cairns next weekend and Cooper believes he has the potential to make the step up to Super Rugby.
“We’ve recruited a young kid, Duncan, he is going really well, all the boys really enjoy him, he is learning every week,” Cooper told Fox Sports.
“We’ve got a few options but he is a guy that in pre-season we’ve been putting in there a lot, making sure we do have cover for that position.
“He is a good kid, I really enjoy his company, I really enjoy him as a team-mate.
“I’ve been able to offer him advice because he hasn’t really played much rugby.
“He is a great talent, he has all the skills to be a great player.”