Rebels confirm Quade Cooper signing for 2019

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Quade Cooper is officially a Melbourne Rebel, with the franchise announcing his signing on Tuesday after weeks of speculation.

Cooper posted a video to Instagram on Tuesday afternoon confirming his move, a one-year contract with the Melbourne franchise.

It comes less than a day after he took a swipe at Reds coach Brad Thorn for 'forcing' him out of Ballymore.

His pending move has been an open secret since September, after first being revealed by RUGBY.com.au.

Cooper had initially turned down an approach from Melbourne earlier in the year but with Reds coach Brad Thorn unmoved in his view that Cooper was not a part of Queensland's future, his view changed.

Cooper said he wanted to help the Rebels on and off the field as he prepares to move south.

“I want to do whatever I can on and off the field to help grow the rugby community in Melbourne. I’m keen to work hard and make the entire Rebels organisation and their fans proud,” he said.

“I was really impressed seeing the improvement that Melbourne have made this year. Their professionalism since the first discussion we had about me being a Rebel has been first-class.”

“I know that rugby in Melbourne has a strong history and cultural connection. If I can help out the grassroots and be involved in inspiring the next generation, then that is just a bonus for me.”

With Cooper's $650,000-a-year salary on the Reds' books as he played a season of club rugby in 2018, Queensland were keen to facilitate a move.

It is believed they will still pay a portion of his salary, with a year still left to run on his contract.

Cooper's departure is a bittersweet moment for his Queensland teammates, including Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi.


"It is sad but it's the best thing for him to still be playing Super Rugby," Kerevi told reporters in Japan.

"I've always said he still has one of the most beautiful minds in rugby. It will be good for him to just be playing at that level again."

Kerevi, who captained the Reds for much of the 2018 season, said Cooper's exile wasn't a distraction for the side in 2018 but it was good to have the situation sorted.

"We knew we weren't going to have Quade and the rest of the other boys (fellow discarded Reds Karmichael Hunt and James Slipper) for the rest of the year so for the other boys and for myself as a leader I have to make sure I can get the boys in the best possible position mentally that they can be and physically going into the week," he said.

The 30-year-old has signed for the 2019 season, reuniting with longtime Reds partner Will Genia.

Those two won't be the only big names in the Rebels backline next year either - Matt Toomua is joining the Rebels after the English Premiership season and they already have Wallabies Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Sefa Naivalu, Jack Maddocks and Dane Haylett-Petty in their ranks from 2018.

Add Tom English, Bill Meakes and Michael Ruru to the mix and the Rebels have one of the deepest backlines in the competition.

Rebels coach Dave Wessels has been pushing for Cooper's addition for some time and said he had been impressed by Cooper's stint in club rugby this year.

After being told he wasn't required by the Reds, Cooper played out the entire season for Premier Rugby club Souths and was adamant he was happy to continue playing club rugby if that was how 2019 unfolded.

“I’ve obviously chatted to Quade a lot over the last few months and I’ve been impressed by his love of the game, and his willingness to reflect on his journey. He’s been pretty selfless in his commitment to club rugby in Brisbane and has shown patience and maturity," he said.

“He knows that he has some hard work ahead of him, but he has the potential to be a really important spark for us over the next few months. We’re excited to have him.”

“We’ve worked really hard on our succession planning as a coaching group and I’m proud of the program we’re building. We’re very clear on what we needed to add to the squad and we look forward to the new players making an impact on the field and in our community.”