Quade back in leadership frame after French escape

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

A combination of maturity and one of the world's finest rugby brains has convinced Nick Stiles that Quade Cooper is ready for a leadership role in 2017.

Queensland Reds fans have watched Cooper grow from a mercurial schoolboy talent to one of world rugby's best playmakers and have welcomed him back with open arms after a stint with French giants Toulon.

The 28-year-old now has the chance to extend on his leadership credentials, which include leading his state against the British and Irish Lions in 2015 and a vice-captaincy role with Ewen McKenzie's 2013 Wallabies.

Quade Cooper is back at Ballymore. Photo: Getty Images"We all mature, don't we? Firstly, he's a pretty competitive person and he's an elite athlete - they're a couple of characteristics you want in your squad because it's tough to win in Super Rugby," Stiles said.

"To recruit someone like him with the natural ability he has got and the drive he has to be better - at the end of the day we want him to be a driver of our game.

"He's not a creator or an inventor, what he is, is a driver."Quade Cooper training for the Wallabies on last year's Spring Tour. Photo: Getty ImagesCooper has always guided the Reds attack with aplomb but he has rarely had his name on an official leadership ticket.

"To have him involved him in the leadership group is important," Stiles said.

"It gives him a lot of responsibility around the group and he's really excited about that."

The only glaring absence on the leadership ticket was Rob Simmons, who had been Slipper's right hand man over the last two years.

"He actually front footed me and said listen, I know we've got some pretty big leaders and some pretty experienced footballers coming to the club this year and I want you to understand that I want to do my best job for the organisation and for the team, it doesn't matter whether I'm in the leadership group or not," Stiles said.

"The reality is - Rob runs our lineout - the connection between Rob and Quade Cooper and how we want to play the game and what plays we are calling are really going to be important throughout the season."