Cooper wrapped in cotton wool, out of Tens
RUGBY UNION: Kingpin Quade Cooper is to skip the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens to concentrate on the Queensland Reds' single pre-season trial two days later.
The Reds today named their 26-man squad for the innovative Tens tournament on February 11-12 with plenty of subtle pointers to their new-look Super Rugby side.
The host team will still field a strong line-up for the Tens at Suncorp Stadium with powerful Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi and explosive prop Taniela "Tongan Thor" Tupou as standout weapons.
Former Brisbane Broncos winger Lachlan Maranta will make his rugby debut in the event while fullback Karmichael Hunt will make his comeback after a lengthy lay-off fixing groin problems.
Frontline Wallabies James Slipper and Rob Simmons will also be involved as will strong-running No. 8 Leroy Houston and giant-striding finisher Eto Nabuli.
Fly half Cooper was always at long odds to play in the Tens, in part to cotton wool him from any unnecessary damage before the Super Rugby lift-off against the Sharks on February 24.
He will direct his attention to the Reds' single pre-season trial against the Melbourne Rebels at Ballymore on February 14.
Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore, backrower Scott Higginbotham, halfback Nick Frisby, flanker George Smith, yet to arrive from his Japanese club, lock Kane Douglas and wing find Izzy Perese will also focus exclusively on the trial.
Chris Latham's wildcard inclusion at 41 for the Tens is all go with the Reds legend in the squad.
"The Tens is an important moment in our pre-season preparations for Super Rugby," Reds coach Nick Stiles said.
"Not only is it an opportunity for us to put into action what we've been training since last year, it is also a chance to demonstrate to our fans the hard work we've put in to ensure we're a better side in 2017.
"We've also got a 15-a-side trial match against the Melbourne Rebels two days after the tournament, so we've looked at the Tens and that match as two opportunities to give the whole squad some game time before the Super Rugby season starts.
"With the Tens squad, we felt it was important to have a balance of some of our more seasoned players, while also giving the young guys some reward for all their hard work.
"They've been training incredibly hard since the conclusion of last year's Super Rugby season and now get the chance to showcase what they're capable of on the field against some seriously tough opposition."
The Reds have been drawn in Pool B alongside the Blues and Crusaders, from New Zealand, and Samoa.
They open against the Blues at 12:56pm on February 11 followed by the Crusaders at 6:00pm. Their final pool match is against Samoa at 10:54am the following morning.
The Reds Fan Day at Ballymore on February 3 will be a twilight Friday affair.
Reds squad for Brisbane Global Rugby Tens: Backs: James Tuttle, Moses Sorovi, Jake McIntyre, Duncan Paia'aua, Henry Teafu,Samu Kerevi, Eto Nabuli, Lachlan Maranta, Chris Kuridrani, Brad Lacey, Karmichael Hunt, Jayden Ngamanu, Chris Latham (wildcard). Forwards: James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Sef Fa'agase, Sam Talakai, Alex Mafi, Andrew Ready, Rob Simmons, Cadeyrn Neville, Lukhan Tui, Izack Rodda, Michael Gunn, Adam Korczyk, Leroy Houston