Boxing over Brisbane Tens for Cooper

Brisbane Tens
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Quade Cooper is one of Queensland's biggest rugby drawcards but the returning Reds flyhalf won't be lining up at the Brisbane Tens next month.

The mercurial playmaker has not been named in the Reds' 26-man squad for the Feb 11-12 tournament, with boxing his main priority in the coming weeks, with a bout on the Green-Mundine undercard on February 3 in Adelaide.

Quade Cooper won his most recent boxing bout in 2014. Photo: Getty ImagesReds coach Nick Stiles has opted for a relatively inexperienced squad for the two-day tournament, a move he foreshadowed in December, with the short-form tournament viewed as a chance to give their next generation a chance to push for spots.

Queensland's decision to opt for youth come at the end of a week in which the involvement of Test players in the competition has been the topic of discussion, with many All Blacks players unlikely to feature under a 12-week break mandated in their Collective Bargaining Agreement, though the decision in Australia comes down to each individual Super Rugby club.

The Wallabies are ruing some missed chances. Photo: Getty ImagesToulon and the Brumbies named their squads on Thursday, including many of their high-profile players in their respective groups.

The Reds' Japanese Top League players will all sit out the tournament, with George Smith and Hendrik Tui still in Japan with Suntory, while NEC's Scott Higginbotham only returned from Japan last week.

Wallabies captain Stephen Moore will also be missing from the Tens list, along with 2016 Test debutant Nick Frisby, though the inclusion of rising star Samu Kerevi will have Brisbane fans excited.

Kerevi has shown his explosive skills in the 15s game and granted more space will be one of the biggest drawcards in the competition for the home side, in his first outing since an achilles injury ended his 2016 Test season prematurely.

Wharenui Hawera at Brumbies trainingQueensland's forward pack has plenty of Test experience, with James Slipper and Rob Simmons named in the lineup, along with Taniela ' Tongan Thor' Tupou.

New recruit Lachlan Maranta will have his first chance to run out for the Reds, alongside fellow ex-Bronco Karmichael Hunt, who is one of the ambassadors for the event.

Queensland legend Chris Latham has been confirmed as the side's only wildcard for the tournament, after confirming his inclusion in recent weeks.

With a relatively clear injury list, Stiles does not seem keen to risk injury to some of the Reds' key cogs, with memories of past pre-season injury tolls, most notably the 2015 carnage, still fresh in many minds.

Chris Latham will be playing at the Tens. Photo: getty ImagesWhile Cooper and co will be watching on at Suncorp, a trial match against the Rebels just two days after the tournament looms as the more likely first glimpse of the 2017 Reds' strongest outfit.

Stiles said the Tens was a crucial opportunity for the team to show supporters that Queensland was moving in the right direction after some turbulent years.

“The Tens is an important moment in our pre-season preparations for Super Rugby. Not only is it an opportunity for us to put into action what we’ve been training since last year, but 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,” Stiles said. 

“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. - Nick Stiles

Lachlan Maranta isn't worried by external criticism. Photo: Getty Images“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 take on the Blues, Crusaders and Samoa in their Tens pool.

TEAM

Reds squad for Brisbane Global Tens

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  

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)

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