Cooper leads playmaker stakes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cooper leads playmaker stakes

By Jim Morton 19/03/2010 03:44:29 PM Comments (0)

Quade Cooper's irresistible Super 14 form has him leading the contest for Australia's chief playmaking role, according to former Wallabies inside back Rod Kafer.

After the personal low of his controversial end to 2009, mercurial five-eighth Cooper has enjoyed a great start to 2010, spearheading Queensland's amazing turnaround.

His performances beside Wallabies halfback Will Genia have helped put the Reds one competition point from the top four and stamped him as a strong alternative to Matt Giteau and Berrick Barnes as the Wallabies' No.10.

With both Giteau and Barnes yet to fully assert themselves with the Brumbies and NSW respectively, Kafer feels Cooper's improved ability to mix his big bag of tricks with control and vision makes him currently the leading contender for this year's Test campaign.

The former long-time Brumbies back, now the players' association president and a TV rugby analyst, would like to see Cooper and Giteau switch the 10 and 12 Wallabies jerseys they wore in November's Grand Slam tour.

"If you are to say at the moment what player is going to give me the best chance of scoring tries and winning matches then I find it hard to go past Quade Cooper in the form he's in," Kafer told AAP.

"Matt Giteau is obviously a very good player and would be in the reckoning somewhere but I've been a long-term believer that Matt Giteau's best position is at 12.

"Gits has occasionally joked with me that he doesn't believe that's the case but Gits is a wonderful 12 and I really love him at 12.

"That 9-10-12 combination of Genia-Cooper-Giteau is mouth-watering and that's not taking anything away from other players in the mix there including Berrick Barnes."

The first Wallabies team of 2010, to play Fiji in Canberra, will not be named until June 1, a month before Cooper's due in court for a committal hearing over a burglary on the Gold Coast in December.

The 21-year-old, who flew to South Africa with the Reds on Friday, must continue his hot form to enhance chances of being picked as Australia's five-eighth for the first time in his 11-Test career.

But he has the benefit of playing outside Genia, whose service is easily the best in the country, and boasting a winning combination with the Test halfback.

The two Reds sit with the Bulls' Springbok duo of Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn as the form halves pairing in the Super 14.

Kafer felt Barnes' move from Queensland to the Waratahs had made Cooper and Genia step up, and they'd responded superbly to the extra responsibility.

"You've got two guys who are the leaders of the team in critical positions and they are playing the game in a fashion they enjoy," he said.

"Quade's got all the tricks in the bag and that's the thing that excites. It excites me watching him because you can see this guy has got so many options that he can take.

"What he struggled with previously is taking the right one and now he makes the right play."

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