Quade Cooper may be the man of the moment, after his scintillating effort ensured the Reds will appear in their first Super Rugby Final in the professional era. But there are doubts whether his style suits the Wallabies. 'Ruthless' Crusaders await in Final | More...
The Cooper inspired 30-13 demolition of the Blues in Brisbane at the weekend saw the Reds fight from limited possession to score four tries to one in the anticipated semifinal encounter and ensured that Queensland’s magical season would continue into the final week.
They face the tournament's dream team, the Crusaders, at the same venue on Saturday.
Despite his sublime effort at the weekend, legendary World Cup-winning former Wallaby captain John Eales doubts that Cooper's tactics would work at international level.
"To win big tournaments you need brilliant players playing brilliantly and Cooper, as ever, played his part," Eales said in his column in the Sydney Morning Herald.
"The Reds second try was almost all Cooper.
"Squeezed onto the sideline to retrieve a kick he bumped off one defender, deceived another, and continued to trace the touchline before somehow extracting a pass for Ben Tapuai to score. Tapuai's job was not complete but Cooper's magic had cast its spell.
"That Cooper was in position to retrieve such a kick is an anomaly. To lighten his tackling load while the Reds defend he retreats to the deep, while Jono Lance advances from fullback to the front line to cover for him. The weakness of this strategy is that Cooper may find himself inconvenient to the action from a turnover in possession and such opportunistic transitions are when he is most dangerous.
"But if his relative impotency in defence reveals a weakness, it also unearths his potency from another angle, one which defences must now counter."
Despite all the praise for Cooper, Eales feels this approach won't work for the Wallabies.
"As tempting as it may be for the Wallabies to employ similar tactics, it may not suit the composition of the Test side," he said in the Herald.
"As the incumbent and almost certain fullback selection Kurtley Beale is not a noted defender himself, the role Lance plays for the Reds could turn to wing in the Wallabies. But neither first-choice option, Digby Ioane nor James O'Connor, seem the likeliest candidates for such a role either.
"But such concerns are for later, at least one week later, and they are for Robbie Deans [Wallaby coach] and not Ewen McKenzie [Reds coach] to concern himself with.
"McKenzie will only be intent on ensuring all his men are available, which seems likely, and then on whom he will select.
"But there will be less radical than subtle changes as he contemplates the relative powers of the Crusaders, who were typically impressive in their 26-10 victory over the Stormers."
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