Quade Cooper could be playing for a Wallaby jersey. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au
The Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels lock horns at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, with an interesting subplot to the match set to be played out between flyhalfs Quade Cooper and James O’Connor. O’Connor was amongst 25 players named by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans for the British and Irish Lions series but Cooper was snubbed, although he can press his case to be added to the squad, with six additional players to join the group on June 11.
On their return from an unsuccessful road trip to South Africa, Reds boss Ewen McKenzie has made several changes to his side, with Beau Robinson, James Hanson and Ed Quirk included in a bid to beef up a forward pack that was outmuscled by both the Stormers and Cheetahs in the past fortnight. Ben Lucas replaces Jono Lance at fullback, while Ben Tapuai replaces injured centre Chris Feauai-Sautia.
Although the Rebels have made just one change from the side that scored a 24-22 over the Waratahs, it is a significant one, with Wallaby flyhalf elect James O’Connor returning at the expense of Bryce Hegarty after two weeks out with a collarbone/sternum injury. Ironically, Melbourne scored back-to-back wins for the first time this season in his absence.
The Rebels have never beaten Queensland in five attempts since joining Super Rugby in 2011, but will be unperturbed by that fact given they had also never been the ‘Tahs prior to last week’s victory. The Reds were 23-13 winners when these sides met in Melbourne back in March, after they overcame a halftime deficit to collect the points.
Click here to bet on Super Rugby Week 16 matches