Quade must work hard to "make the boat go faster": Wessels

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Quade Cooper has had better relationships with some coaches than he has others.

That is true for all players but in Cooper's case, those relationships tend to filter into the public sphere.

Michael Cheika, Ewen McKenzie, Robbie Deans, Richard Graham and Nick Stiles were all in Cooper's corner during their tenure as Reds and Wallabies coaches.

Brad Thorn wasn't.

Cooper's new boss, Rebels coach Dave Wessels, will have his star flyhalf's back on one condition.

"If Quade's prepared to work hard then we are going to get on just fine," Wessels said in Melbourne on Monday.

"We are here to win Super Rugby, we aren't here to come ninth.

Dave Wessels has got his man in Quade Cooper. Photo: Getty Images"As I say - for all of us, not just Quade - between where we are now and where we want to be there is a huge amount of hard work.

"We have to be realistic about that and we have to keep the people on the boat that want to work hard.

"If people are prepared to make sacrifices to make the boat go faster then they are going to fit in just fine.

"If they are not then they are going to struggle here."

Bringing Cooper to the club has been a very long process for Wessels and the Rebels' front office.

They were always the team linked to the 30-year-old in the wake of his exile from the Reds and that's because Wessels has a vision which he believes can turn into reality with Cooper running the show.

"The biggest thing we got out of last year is a really clear understanding of what we look like at our best and how we play when we are at our best as a team," Wessels said.

"As a result of that we have been able to be really pointed with a number of things - our athletic development as well as our recruitment - and for us, Quade is the type of player who suits that play.

Is Quade Cooper the man to drag the Rebels to their maiden finals berth? Photo: Getty Images"I think Jack Debreczeni is a hell of a good player and he played really well for us but I just feel Quade is probably better suited to the style that we want to play.

"Whether that actually happens remains to be seen because there is a lot of hard work between now and what we need to implement."

The game plan Wessels implements with Cooper wearing the No. 10 jersey will be watched very carefully by all comers when Super Rugby kicks off in February.

The 70 Test Wallaby is at his best when playing off the cuff and while Wessels stopped short of giving his star halves pair a complete green light to do as they please, there will be improvisation incorporated when Melbourne are on a roll.

"It's my job and the rest of the coaching staff's job to create a framework for us to perform," he said.

"Within that framework you expect players of world class calibre - such as Quade, Willy G and some others that we have in our group - to produce some magic.

"That's what makes them special and that's what ultimately makes the difference for those top teams.

"But none of that is going to come without a really clear framework of what is expected."

Campbell Magnay has caught the eye of Dave Wessels. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile he won't report at AAMI Park until January 1 Wessels expects Campbell Magnay to be one of those players capable of "magic".

He was another high priority target for Melbourne and will push for starting XV minutes upon his return to Australia.

"Campbell is one of those players I have chased for some time," Wessels said.

"He is big and powerful and we played Tom English at 13 a lot last year and we wanted to recruit someone similar to Tommy.

"He's obviously an outside back, he's obviously fast and he can carry the ball at the line.

"Those two players are quite similar in that way.

"They are almost like for like and if one of them isn't available the other one can come in without disrupting the game plan too much."

All of this recruiting is part of Melbourne's larger plan to climb the Super Rugby mountain.

Jumping eight places from ninth to first would be quite the achievement and while they've done a fine job of bringing the talent required to do so together even Wessels admits the best laid plans can often go awry.

"Your planning is as good as it is when you get punched in the face," he said.

"When that happen it is probably all going to change but so far, so good."