Reds youngsters 'keen to stay' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Reds youngsters 'keen to stay'

By Jim Morton 11/03/2010 07:58:58 PM Comments (0)

Dynamic back-rower Scott Higginbotham believes delays in re-signing key Reds Peter Hynes and Quade Cooper won't discourage off-contract Queenslanders staying at Ballymore.

Wallabies backs Hynes, set to return to the Reds backline with Digby Ioane for Sunday's home clash with the Western Force, and Cooper aren't expected to be in a position to settle their futures until the end of the Super 14.

With restrictions preventing expansion franchise Melbourne Rebels signing Australian-based players to be lifted on Monday, Queensland is again the province most vulnerable to be raided with two-dozen players coming off contract.

But unlike 2005, when pillaged by the Western Force, the mood is far better at Ballymore with the Reds enjoying an uplifting start to the season with upsets of the Crusaders and Chiefs and narrow losses to NSW and the Blues.

In-form playmaker Cooper is keen to repay the faith shown by Queensland, who stuck by him over his burglary charge, but can't officially re-sign until cleared by the Australian Rugby Union.

The ARU are also the major negotiators in three-way contract talks with both the five-eighth and Test winger Hynes, a major target of the Rebels, who is disappointed by a lack of action by the national body.

"It doesn't make it easy but this contracting process isn't easy," Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said of hopes for a possible domino effect.

While the signatures of Cooper and Hynes would encourage other off-contract players to remain, Higginbotham said they see a bright future and want to stay anyway.

The in-form No.8-flanker also knows impressive young leaders Will Genia and James Horwill and strike weapon Ioane are among those locked in for 2011.

"Besides the big names there's still a lot of up-and-coming guys like Ben Daley, Laurie Weeks and Jake Schatz who I'm sure want to stay in Queensland as much as I do so all that's got to be taken into consideration as well," the 23-year-old said.

"I've come through in leaps and bounds with Damien Marsh as our strength coach and Ewen being out head coach.

"I love playing for Queensland and would love to stay in Queensland."

In a mild surprise, Ioane is poised to return from a knee injury in his Wallabies position at outside centre, possibly at the expense of an unlucky Morgan Turinui.

Both he and fullback Hynes (finger) have trained strongly after missing the 23-18 win over the Chiefs which has given Queensland the chance for a first back-to-back win in four years when they play the Force at Suncorp Stadium.

"We come away with a win this week and then it's on to South Africa for three weeks and we aim to do well," Higginbotham said.

"I have no doubt that we can push for finals this year."

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