Thorn slams door on Cooper, race for Folau heats up

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Israel Folau would fit right in at the Reds, should the off contract superstar decide to take his talents north.

That’s the view of Queensland flyhalf Jono Lance, who played alongside Folau during the Waratahs’ 2014 run to the top of Super Rugby.

Speaking at Brisbane Airport prior to the Reds setting sail for Tokyo, Lance said Folau would fit right in at Ballymore.

“I’ve played with Izzy - he’s a pretty exciting player and I don’t think anyone needs proof he is on the footy field,” Lance said.

“He’s a great teammate, the way he works with the younger guys, how he goes about taking advice from someone.

“To be a world class player and be happy to take advice from some of the younger guys - I think that’s pretty impressive.”Israel Folau is weighing up a move north. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyWhile Lance said there had been no internal chatter between players regarding the potential of playing alongside Folau, it’s understood Reds coach Brad Thorn and the star fullback have discussed a potential move.

Cap space is another matter for Queensland to consider, as they currently have a substantially chunk of their cap tied up by two players who appear unlikely to ever pull on the Reds jersey again.

Karmichael Hunt has been barred from playing club football while Rugby Australia and the QRU search for an overseas home for his services but Quade Cooper appears determined to remain in Queensland.

That’s despite this comment from Reds coach Brad Thorn, in the wake of news Cooper has knocked back midseason approaches from both the Rebels and Brumbies.

“If there was an opportunity for Quade at another Super Rugby club, we wouldn’t stand in his way.”

The Reds would hold the door open for the mercurial playmaker if he was to walk, though it's understood offloading both Cooper and Hunt's salary isn't a necessity in the race for Folau's signature - which will fetch close to $1.5 million per year.


While the QRU is yet to shake the Cooper headache, they appear to have found their next star flyhalf in Hamish Stewart.

Lance may be Thorn’s man for the remainder of the season but Stewart has all the skills required to be an elite flyhalf for the next decade, considering he is only 20 years of age.

A possible shift to fullback for the clash with the Sunwolves is on the cards, such is the desire to keep Stewart in the starting XV.

“I was pretty excited with how Hamish went in the game against the Bulls,” Lance said.

“He’s doing things that I wasn’t doing when I was 19 so I’m definitely working with him as the week goes on in whatever that position is.

“Whether that’s working at five-eighth - whatever it is - I’m really excited about where he’s heading and the kind of guy he is.”

The Reds face the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday, kicking off at 1pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.