Erratic Cooper facing the axe from Reds - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Erratic Cooper facing the axe from Reds

By Jim Morton 19/04/2009 02:52:24 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies young gun Quade Cooper looms as Queensland's highest-profile fall guy from the Reds' horror home loss to the lowly Lions.

Vice-captain Berrick Barnes, who rated the 31-20 defeat as shattering as the record 92-3 humiliation by the Bulls in 2007, is set to take over from the erratic Cooper at five-eighth in Saturday's intimidating trip to Auckland to play the star-studded Blues.

Furious Reds coach Phil Mooney didn't pull punches after the four-tries-to-three loss to the Johannesburg-based Lions on Saturday night, labelling the performance "disgraceful" and signalling mass changes.

Bumbling Queensland's inability to put away the 13-man visitors in the second half as well as gift them three of their four tries through soft turnovers has them staring at a bottom three finish for the sixth straight year.

Mooney rated it the most deflating loss of his two-year reign and felt his scatterbrained side couldn't expect to beat a suburban colts team with their brand of dumb, mistake-riddled rugby.

He also bemoaned the "dreadful timing" of the fourth straight loss which diminishes chances of key recruitment targets Richard Brown and Drew Mitchell returning to Ballymore.

"That's completely unacceptable," Mooney said. "If you play like that and expect to get selected then you're living in a dreamworld."

Mooney calmed down on Sunday, calling for a "collective effort" from players and fellow coaches to thrash out a solution to their woes and avoid a second Super 14 woodenspoon in three seasons at a Monday meeting.

The coach will wait until after the meeting before firming up selection plans for Saturday's match against the fifth-placed Blues at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland.

Tasi Luafutu is a certainty to start at openside flanker with marquee import Daniel Braid unable to play his former team due to a season-ending ankle injury.

Braid ruptured his Achilles tendon which will require surgery and a six-month rehabilitation, cutting into the start of a new three-year deal with the Llanelli Scarlets in Wales.

The highly-skilled Cooper has revelled in the Reds' plans to be the competition's entertainers but his inability to control play and perform the fundamentals is likely to cost him, with Wallabies inside centre Barnes to become the sole playmaker.

"Individual brilliance doesn't win you games, it's being able to perform the basics all the time and that's our challenge," Mooney said.

"It sounds simple but that's the way to go, just be brilliant at the basics and nothing else.

"I certainly think that (Barnes at five-eighth) is an option.

"While his performance wasn't faultless, Berrick's a very good example to the rest of the group about how he prepares and the pride he takes in his performance and the way he delivers each week."

Teenager Luke Morahan is poised for his first run-on start with Test winger Peter Hynes in serious doubt after aggravating a long-time knee problem which is to be reviewed by his surgeon.

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