Cooper targets April return

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie says Quade Cooper should be back in action by the time the 2012 Super Rugby tournament reaches the halfway mark.

Cooper tore knee ligaments at the recent World Cup, and has since undergone surgery. The latest news from Brisbane is that he could be back in the Reds No 10 shirt as early as Round 7 of next year’s Sanzar tournament. This means that Cooper will miss just six Super Rugby games.

‘Quade’s operation went smoothly with surgery results confirming the circumstances of his injury are typical to what you normally expect from a torn ACL,’ McKenzie said. ‘We’re confident he’ll return in the quickest time possible and hopefully in time for the [game against the] Brumbies in early April.

‘There’s no doubting Quade’s professional approach to the game and he will work tirelessly with our medical staff to ensure he is back on the field sooner rather than later. That’s just the type of person he is.’

The 2011 Super Rugby final was Cooper’s 31st consecutive game at flyhalf for the Reds. Next year, the Queensland side will look to a new playmaker during the early stages, with someone like Mike Harris earmarked as a potential flyhalf replacement. McKenzie said that there are as many as six players vying for the position.

‘It’s disappointing to lose Quade but we have a number of capable players who can step in and excel in his absence. Within our contracted squad Mike Harris, Jono Lance, Ben Lucas and Ben Tapuai all have experience at the position, while Dallan Murphy and Ulupano Seuteni in our extended playing squad are also young and exciting prospects at the playmaking position.

‘I don’t have any preconceived ideas at this stage on who will be selected. It’s up to those individuals to now impress in the opportunities they will be given.’