Cooper not 'key' to finals

2012-07-16 08:33

Sydney - Reds coach Ewen McKenzie is confident his resurgent side can advance through the finals with or without flyhalf Quade Cooper, whose appearance before the judiciary on Monday will determine whether he plays this weekend.

Cooper was sin-binned and later cited for a high tackle on Berrick Barnes in the 63rd minute of the Reds' final-round clash with the Waratahs in Brisbane on Saturday.

If found guilty of making contact with Barnes above the line of the shoulders, there is a chance Cooper will miss the Reds' home-ground play-off with the Sharks this weekend.

Former Wallaby Tim Horan said on Sunday the Reds could not win without their mercurial five-eighth, who has only recently returned from a long injury lay-off.

But McKenzie said the side had managed without Cooper before and could do so again if necessary. ''There's no doubt that Quade makes a difference for us, [but] Quade's played in three games and two half-games and we've won 11 and we're in the finals, so we've had to do a lot of it without Quade anyway,'' he said.

Cooper would be the Reds' flyhalf against the Sharks ''in the ideal world'', McKenzie said, but the side could survive without him.

''We had a great win against the Chiefs here [in round 12] and Quade wasn't playing - Benny Lucas was at 10. So we've had to manufacture and work out our plans B, C and D. We got to [plan] F at one point in the 10 position. It's something you deal with as coach and as a playing group.''

The Reds pulled off the upset of the Australian conference by slipping past the Brumbies with a bonus-point win against the Waratahs to make the finals after a horror start to their season, which included a raft of injuries to anyone who pulled on the playmaker's jersey.

Their path from now is tough. The Reds played and lost to all the other finalists this season except the Chiefs, whom they beat 42-27 in May.

The Sharks disposed of the Reds 27-22 in Durban in round four, fighting back from 17-0 to win, while Reds wing Digby Ioane was in the sin bin and two flyhalfs fell to injury. McKenzie said the squad would relish the chance to ''square the ledger'' against the Sharks at home this weekend and against the other finalists.

''If you want to win the competition you've got to be able to beat everyone, and those teams we haven't beaten yet, so if we get a chance to play them again it's fantastic,'' he said.

''We back ourselves against those teams, you don't win every game and we haven't won those ones, and we want to turn that around. The Sharks is a good place to start.''

McKenzie had little sympathy for the Brumbies, who led the Australian conference all season before losing to the Bulls on the same weekend that the Reds beat the Waratahs five tries to two.

''You've got to persist. If you persist you'll eventually get some luck. We haven't had much - there's not many games that went our way in the last four weeks or three weeks, a couple went our way this weekend but you've got to … keep winning. We've won and in the end we had a much harder task than the Brumbies did at the weekend, and we got through our task and they didn't.''

However, the judiciary hearing over Cooper's alleged high tackle is robbing McKenzie of important preparation time, including homework on the Sharks, which he said was frustrating.

Rugby Heaven

  • lionel.kemm.9 - 2012-07-16 08:52

    Two weeks on the sidelines for Cooper but then again it is the Aussies so maybe 1 week if we lucky......good luck Sharks.

      james.austin.3954 - 2012-07-16 09:54

      the reds only have one more game in super rugby

      lionel.kemm.9 - 2012-07-16 09:57

      Hope so Jimmy:):)

      lionel.kemm.9 - 2012-07-16 10:17

      Probably having his BM kompressor washed

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-16 10:18

      Just so u know isak mongo visser, this is the last time I reply to anything u say. Because you are a mongo. u will be the lead singer of a group im putting together - mongo groove. Your invites on it's way

      lionel.kemm.9 - 2012-07-16 10:20

      Morning Tom:):)

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-16 10:23

      Jimmya why do u say that? Are they not playing in next years comp? News to me

  • claude.felbert - 2012-07-16 08:54

    I doubt they will beat the Sharks with or without him

  • dewald.botha.50 - 2012-07-16 09:02

    Still a shame that the Sharks have more points, but have to play in Queensland!

      boereroo.jackman - 2012-07-16 09:11

      Please forward your complaints to Sanzar and provide an alternative to the CONFERENCE system which all three unions agreed to. Btw Sharks should be honoured to play in Brisbane which is 1000 times better than Durban.

      felix.feline.3 - 2012-07-16 09:25

      @boereroo, would be nice if there were people there to watch them though.

      davemanza - 2012-07-16 10:04

      Suggestion: Top three per conference qualify along with the three runners-up (as before), however, once qualified, the teams are ranked according to the points they brought in from the Round-robin stage. OIW: 1. Stomers (66) 2. Chiefs (64) 3. Crusaders (61) 4. Bulls (59) 5. Sharks (59) 6. Reds (58) Playoffs would then see the Reds having to play the Saders (3 plays 6) in Christchurch and the Bulls v. Sharks (4 plays 5) in Pretoria. Surely this is a bit of a no-brainer, or am I being naiive?

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-16 10:07

      Being naive

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-16 10:07

      And you have no brain

      MarkSchrade1980 - 2012-07-16 10:26

      What's with the insults? I don't get it. I love rugby but I can never understand why ppl have to be so insulting towards each other when it comes to rugby. Aren't we all just South Africans? It is a game afterall

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-16 10:32

      Mark that is so ethereal maaan. Like bur can't we all just get along maaaan

  • jacquesalthea.knotter - 2012-07-16 11:46

    Sharks will take it now as QC is an x factor player .Which I rate a one of the best in the world today.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-16 13:11

      Quality Control? confused

  • jacobus.rautenbach - 2012-07-16 18:01

    go redsssssssssssssssssssssss

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