Quade’s Yesterdays, and Karmichael’s Tomorrows?

The Reds lost to the Waratahs on Saturday. This was no fault of their forwards, who put in a solid day’s graft at the office. But, oy, that back division is poor! They have been forced to build their game around the man-mountain that is Samu Kerevi, and he is misfiring on almost all cylinders. He tries to do everything on his own, passing the ball is his last option, and his defence has become something of a mystery. He misses more tackles than he makes.

The misfiring Red’s backline has prompted a chorus of calls for the return of their wayward son, Quade Cooper, to the squad. Even ex-Wallaby great Timmy Horan has suggested that it is time for Reds’ coach Brad Throne to recall Cooper.

Thorn responded by confirming that he would not recall Cooper.

“Quade’s been playing club rugby. He’s been playing well, but we’ve just been working with the guys we’ve got there,”Thorn said when asked if he’d closed the door on the 70-Test playmaker.

When he was reminded that it was up to him to bring Cooper back into the fold, Thorn appeared to draw a line in the sand.

“Like I said at the start of the season, we’re going in a different direction, so that’s all I’ve got for ya.”

Thorn’s decision is easy to defend.

Cooper comes with baggage, plenty of it. He is the “most carded” backline player in the history of Test rugby. His on-field discipline is something of a liability. Off the field, he has more than his fair share of disciplinary issues at every level in the game. He draws attention to himself and it is not all good, for him, or for rugby.

And then there is his unique brand of rugby.

He is well known for his goose-stepping, his no-look passes, his bob and weave moments before breaking, and his legendary no-look inside pass…

So much so that every team in the world can read his game like a book from their training manual.

His defence is pitiful, and frequently illegal as he has a penchant for the head-high stuff and the no-arms shoulder charge. Both the Reds and the Wallabies post him out on the wing in their defensive set-up in their own half of the field. Somewhere where cover defenders can try and stop the bleeding.

Much like Samu Kerevi, whom I mentioned in my opening remark, Cooper assumes the role of sole playmaker in any team he plays in. The entire backline is secondary to whatever he is going to do. They become his fall-back option if his own plays seem to be running out of steam.

As Stuff.co.nz puts it: Cooper is a myth. At his best, around 2010-2011, he was electrifying. He’s rarely been since. There’s been flirtations with France and sevens and any number of “Quade’s never been fitter/happier/in a better headspace stories” in that time and not a lot to suggest he’s an elite player anymore.He comes with history and would be a distraction and impediment to what Thorn’s trying to build.”

I can fully understand why Brad Thorn does not want Quade Cooper back! Sometimes a teams’ long term prospects need to be put ahead of the immediate. Nobody wants someone as flaky as Quade Cooper anymore.

Karmichael Hunt

Karmichael Hunt is another that the Reds’ supporters are asking about. Why is he not back in the team now that his alleged cocaine dealings are in the past? Where is he?

The truth is that Karmichael Hunt hasn’t been sighted at the Reds since standing himself down following his arrest in late December.

“Yeah well, he hasn’t been in and he’s not playing club rugby at the moment so that doesn’t look to be happening,”Thorn said.

On current evidence Hunt seems to have walked away from a career in rugby.

Thorn, in his first year as head coach, appears to be building something admirable. He’s not seeking quick fixes. There’s been no compromising of his famously high personal standards.

And that means that the likes of Hunt and Cooper may as well go and look for a contract somewhere else.