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Cooper to lead Reds against Lions

Fri, 07 Jun 2013 08:00
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What most people don't know or see is the responsibility and ownership he takes on
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Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper will captain Queensland in Saturday's tour match against the British and Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium.

With seven current Australian squad members unavailable for selection, Cooper will enter the game as the Reds' most capped Wallaby with 38 appearances and with an impeccable Test record at Suncorp Stadium having won all four matches he has played for Australia at the venue.

Cooper has also been invaluable to the Reds' Super Rugby efforts in 2013 and has played every minute of all 15 regular season matches in the No.10 jersey, although he has missed out on selection by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans this year.

The match is being billed as the mercurial playmaker's last chance to impress Deans and force his way into the squad for the Test series, so he will have plenty to prove against the tourists.

"Quade is a proven winner and real facilitator of success here at the Reds and the reality is that we win more games with him in the side," Reds Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie said.

"But, what most people don't know or see is the responsibility and ownership he takes on with regards to our gameplan. Quade has now had four years of direct leadership involvement in this space, not just in calling the game, but in advocating our gameplan and problem solving during the week.

"Right now, with seven current Wallabies unavailable, he is also our most experienced international player.

"When I first arrived at the Reds we didn't have many leaders, but we've spent a lot of time developing this within our group.

"We did this because it's important that it's not always just about the captain or vice-captain but the volume of people who make decisions. In the end, we will need a lot of leaders tomorrow night," McKenzie added.

Cooper said it would be an honour to captain Queensland.

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

"It's a proud moment anytime 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 and I'm really looking forward it.

"The Lions are also an extremely formidable opponent and one we have a huge amount of respect for. That respect just adds to why we are taking them so seriously."

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