Reds dealing with Cooper distraction - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Reds dealing with Cooper distraction

By Laine Clark 09/12/2009 04:47:53 PM Comments (0)

A "new era" in Queensland rugby has been promised by Ewen McKenzie, but the incoming Reds coach is sweating on what role Wallabies star Quade Cooper plays in it.

Queensland's new all-red home playing strip for the 2010 Super 14 was unveiled on Wednesday.

But McKenzie had no doubt been seeing red since Cooper's arrest for burglary on Sunday.

Cooper, 21, has been bailed to appear in Southport Magistrates Court on Friday.

"I had a discussion with him but obviously he has things coming up this week which he needs to organise," McKenzie said of Cooper.

"It's a difficult time for him obviously, but it's outside of my control.

"I was not expecting him back (from leave after Wallabies duty) until January 13.

"I have seen him earlier for the wrong reasons but I can't change that."

Officials are expected to consider in the coming weeks whether Cooper should be stood down until the matter is finalised.

It is hardly the start McKenzie had in mind when he took over the coaching reins from Phil Mooney.

"You know in sport every week is different," McKenzie said.

"This week has had its distractions but at the same time it is a distraction outside the squad, the squad has been very focused on their preparation.

"We have been talking about what we are going to do on the field to improve."

Cooper had been attending the buck's night of Reds and Wallabies team-mate Peter Hynes before the alleged weekend incident on the Gold Coast.

It was also reported that Cooper was subjected to independent blood and urine tests upon his release from the watch house.

The ARU and QRU have denied they were behind the tests.

While Cooper was a glaring absentee at the Reds function on Wednesday, Hynes officially unveiled the new playing strip but would not comment on Cooper.

However, Reds captain James Horwill said Cooper could count on his team-mates' support.

"It's disappointing to see the headlines out there," Horwill said.

"But we will wait and see. It's obviously something we can't comment much on until after Friday.

"Of course we support Quade as a team-mate but we will wait and see what all the facts are, so until then we don't know."

ARU and Queensland officials met with Cooper in Brisbane on Tuesday for the first time since he was charged.

The Rugby Union Players Association has also been in contact with Cooper.

Despite the controversy, McKenzie still had bold plans for 2010.

He said the all-red strip epitomised the new direction he would be taking the rugby battlers.

"I like innovation. I like change. I don't think it (new strip) is radical, I just think it is a way of defining a new era, a new point in time," he said.

"You've got to make those statements so people understand that it is not more of the same.

"We are all about trying to do something different next year.

"This is a physical sign and hopefully people will see it also in the way we play.

"You don't fix things overnight but we are doing things differently because we know what we have done in the past hasn't been good enough."

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