NRC lifeline unlikely for Cooper, Hunt

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Banished Reds stars Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt are likely to have another door shut on their professional careers in Queensland, with Brisbane City coach Mick Heenan declaring there isn't much "logic" in selecting the pair to play in the NRC.

Heenan will take the reins at City for the second straight year having guided the two time champions to a sixth place finish in his rookie season and while he admits there are still some squad structure conversations to play out, Heenan indicated he is planning for life without the star duo.

"I’m just kind of waiting to hear from a few people as to how all that will play out," Heenan told RUGBY.com.au.

"I don’t know what the contract situation is yet and whether they will be around or not.

"Obviously NRC is a development pathway for the Reds and if those guys aren't involved there, there probably isn’t much logic having them in an NRC side."Cooper may not get the chance to represent Brisbane City either. Photo: Getty ImagesIt's understood the QRU will not stand in Heenan's way if he does elect to pick either Hunt or Cooper, as that would go against the policy employed in previous years, where Reds coaches have left NRC bosses to select their teams as they see fit.

Despite that, Heenan said the pair are not currently part of the plan for the upcoming season.

"We're preparing as though we will be without them," he said.

"But they’re both good players and we will have to just wait and see."

A Queensland Country coach is yet to be named though it's understood the Reds will take the same stance on James Slipper - not standing in the eventual coach's way should he select the star prop.

The blow to both Cooper and Hunt's future comes as the mercurial flyhalf took to social media today, preaching the importance of persistence and patience.


"When they want you to fail but failure is not an option be PERSISTENT and PATIENT because even when it appears there is no way... there is always a way," Cooper captioned the post.

"One thing I’ve learnt this year is that my happiness is not controlled by others but through enjoying each situation as it is... this year has been different but I’m grateful to those who have challenged me but this has and will only continue to make me stronger."

Nick Frisby is also back in Brisbane and eligible for City selection, though it's understood there is interest from clubs abroad to take up the remainder of his contract.

Outside of the selection dilemma Heenan feels he is ready to take City back to the finals, with Wednesday's draw reveal heightening the anticipation for the season ahead.

“Looking back on last season - we were inconsistent,” he said.Heenan is eagerly awaiting the start of his second season in charge of City. Photo: QRU Media/Meggie WhitchurchWe played some really good footy and in the end we only missed out on finals by for and against - by margin - but certainly I think we improved on the year before but I feel like we will be better again this year and give the competition a real shake.

“I feel like I’m better prepared.

“At the start of last year coaching NRC wasn’t even on my radar so I wasn’t watching games through the lens of who might be suitable for NRC.

“Because I knew from early on this year that I’d probably be coaching City again I’ve been able to assess players in a different light which has been useful.

“I certainly feel like I’ve got a better handle on who around each team might be up for it.”