Cooper, Hunt and Slipper named in Queensland NRC squads

NRC
by Staff Writer

Exiled Reds Quade Cooper, Karmichael Hunt and James Slipper will be treated like any other in the Queensland NRC teams, according to coaches Mick Heenan and Rod Seib.

Cooper and Hunt were named in the 36-man Brisbane City squad, and Slipper was selected in the Queensland Country squad.

Whether they play in the NRC remains to be seen - the QRU say their selections will be up to City coach Mick Heenan and Country coach Rod Seib - but with Cooper and Hunt in form in Brisbane club rugby, and Slipper due to return against the Wallabies on Friday night, a lack of game readiness won't be a factor.

Brisbane City coach Heenan told RUGBY.com.au last month that he was uncertain about whether he would pick Cooper and Hunt.

"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," he said.

It is believed Rugby AU subsequently made it clear that the highly-paid Wallabies duo should still play in the NRC.

Heenan said on Wednesday his expectations would be the same for the duo as for any other player in his team.

"The same as I want from every other member of the squad," he said.

I just want them focused on improving themselves and I want them focused on improving the players around them. That's the same attitude as I want from all 33.

"They've certainly got the ability to play at that level.

"They're playing club footy for Souths and so it's a jump up again to go to NRC and then it's another jump up to Super Rugby level.

"They'll be treated like anyone else in the 33. If they perform and if they do the right things at training they'll be picked."

Heenan will also be assisted by Souths coach Elia Tuqiri for the first time this year, further boosting the likelihood Cooper and Hunt will play for City.

Brisbane City take on the Rising. Photo: AJF Photography Cooper and Hunt weren't considered for the Wallabies trial match due to Souths beginning their finals campaign this week.

Both the City and Country squads feature a mix of Queensland Reds contracted players and representatives from each of the nine clubs in the Queensland Premier Rugby competition.

Brisbane City will take more games to the grassroots than ever before in 2018, with all three home games being hosted by Brisbane clubs Norths, Wests and Easts.

Seib, the current Queensland Schoolboys head coach and Bond University Premier Grade assistant coach,said Slipper would take time to get back to his best but his return would be valuable.

"I'm wrapped to have James in the side just like all members of the squad," he said.

"I'm sure he'll be looking to add value just like everyone else and through all of his experience I'm sure the players around him will benefit from that.

"I'm sure he'll build into the season.

"When someone's had a break of that sort of period they're not going to hit their straps in round one but certainly as the season goes I'm sure he'll have more and more of an impact but certainly given his experience I'm sure other players will benefit from that."

Queensland Country will continue to take matches to regional Queensland in 2018, with matches to be played in Townsville, Mackay and the Gold Coast.

The NRC, which runs from September 1 to October 27, is a more streamlined competition than previous years with eight clubs - including a stand-alone Sydney franchise - now represented.

The 2018 NRC kicks off on September 1, with the Fiji Drua taking on the Melbourne Rising.

SQUADS

Queensland NRC squads 2018

Brisbane City

Props

Feao Fotuaika - Souths

Josh Nasser - University of Queensland

JP Smith - Reds/GPS

Ruan Smith -Reds/GPS

Misioka Timotea - Wests

Hookers

Brandon Paenga-Amosa (Wallabies allocated player) - Reds/Sunnybank

Andrew Ready - Reds/Easts

Moli Sooaemalelagi - Sunnybank

Locks

Nathan Den Hoedt - Sunnybank

Jeremiah Lynch -Wests

Zach Moimoi- Bond University

Lukhan Tui (Wallabies allocated player) - Reds/Souths

Jale Vakaloloma - Easts

Back row

Matt Gicquel- GPS

Michael Gunn - Reds/Easts

Reece Hewat - Reds/Norths

Adam Korczyk - Reds/University of Queensland

Fraser McReight - Brothers

Pat Morrey - University of Queensland

Tuaina Tualima - Sunnybank

Dillon Wihongi - Wests

Scrumhalves

Scott Gale - University of Queensland

Moses Sorovi - Reds/University of Queensland

Flyhalves

Quade Cooper - Reds/Souths

James Dalgleish - University of Queensland

Centres

Con Foley - University of Queensland

Matt Gordon- Easts

Samu Kerevi (Wallabies allocated player) - Reds/Souths

Isaac Lucas - Sunnybank

Tautalatasi Tasi - Souths

Outside backs

Lawson Creighton - Brothers

Alex Gibbon - Brothers

Karmichael Hunt - Reds/Souths

Lachlan Maranta - Reds/Wests

Jayden Ngamanu - Reds/Souths

Emori Waqavulagi - Souths 

Queensland Country

Props

Richie Asiata - Easts

Taniela Tupou - Reds/Brothers

Kirwan Sanday - Easts

Fred Burke - GPS

Harry Hoopert - Reds/Brothers

Jake Simeon - Souths

James Slipper - Reds/Bond University

Hookers                              

Alex Casey - Souths

Efi Ma’afu  - Wests

Matt Faessler - Brothers

Locks

Angus Blyth - Reds/Bond University

Josh Fenner - Sunnybank

Rob Puli’uvea - Wests

Izack Rodda - Reds/Easts

Harry Hockings - Reds/University of Queensland

Backrowers

Angus Scott-Young - Reds/University of Queensland

Liam Wright - Reds/Easts

Caleb Timu - Reds/Souths

Tainui Ford - Bond University

Tom Kibble - GPS

Harry Wilson - Brothers

Sunia Finefeuiaki - Souths

Scrumhalves

James Tuttle - Reds/GPS

Tate McDermott - Reds/University of Queensland

Flyhalves

Hamish Stewart - Reds/Bond University

Teti Tela - Reds/Souths

Centres

Duncan Paia’aua - Reds/Norths

Chris Feauai-Sautia - Reds/Souths

Tony Hunt - Norths

Daniel Boardman - Bond University

Outside Backs

Izaia Perese - Reds/Easts

Jordy Petaia - Reds/Wests

Jock Campbell - University of Queensland

Filipo Daugunu - Reds/Wests

Joey Fittock - Bond University

Patrick James - Brothers