Hodge hopeful Cooper lands in Melbourne

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Wallabies and Rebels star Reece Hodge is hopeful Quade Cooper will be more than a golf buddy when the Super Rugby season kicks off in 2019.

Having been banished from the Reds by coach Brad Thorn Cooper is inching towards a deal which will land him in Melbourne in coming weeks.

Should the transfer be ticked off by Rugby Australia the mercurial flyhalf will be back playing professional rugby for the first time in over a year come February.

That's a mouthwatering prospect for most Melbourne fans and Hodge is similarly excited by the prospect.

"He is definitely someone I would love to have on my team and play outside," Hodge said as he prepares for the Wallabies' clash with the Springboks in Port Elizabeth.

"You don't get too many guys like him who can create opportunities for outside backs.

"It will be awesome if it comes to fruition."

Cooper's great mate Will Genia echoed Hodge's thoughts in a chat with RUGBY.com.au last month.Cooper has been plying his trade for Brisbane City. Photo: Getty ImagesHe identified Cooper as the missing link in Melbourne's attack and Hodge concurred.

"I think it's more the leadership on the inside of the line," he said.

"Having Will really helped this year and you definitely noticed the change when he wasn't there.

"It's nothing against Michael Ruru and he played some great footy but in terms of leadership and having seen different situations over a 10 or 15 year career it's different to someone in that spot for a two or three year career.

"It makes a bit of a difference and Quade is someone who has seen a lot of scenarios like that through his career.

"He has made his mistakes and learnt from them both on and off the field.

"Being able to use that experience throughout a whole season... it's not something you could pinpoint on one game or just here or there it's more a collective having someone like that in your squad.

"Like Willy I would love to have him at the Rebels. It's an exciting prospect if he does come."

Hodge also made a point of noting Cooper as a more mature operator than the flyhalf he first met a few years ago.

It's that maturity which allows Cooper to shape the way his side attacks.

"Everyone has seen what he can do and over the past three or four years that I have known him especially he has really grown and matured," he said.

"He has an ability to have a say in how the team he is with wants to play and how the attack should be shaped especially."

But while Hodge would love to be playing alongside Cooper next year he didn't hold back when asked about his golf game.

The star centre is one of about eight Wallabies who typically spend their team day off at the local course of choice and Cooper share's a similar love affair with the game.

Hodge didn't miss when asked about Cooper's ability with the putter.

"I played golf with him the other day and there wasn’t too much chat about (the move to the Rebels) to be honest," Hodge said.

"It was more about how bad he was putting.

"He's a fashionista on golf course - bucket hat and a bit of everything.

"But the difference between Tiger (Woods) and Quade is Tiger usually wins."

The Wallabies face the Springboks in Port Elizabeth on Sunday morning, kicking off at 1am AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.