Scrumhalf and skipper Sam Cordingley is in doubt but enigmatic Quade Cooper will retain his place in the Queensland side for Saturday’s Super 14 clash against the unbeaten Sharks in Durban.
In the space of a week, the brilliant yet erratic Cooper went from hero to villain in the Reds camp and copped a lambasting from coach Phil Mooney..
The 19-year-old, lauded as the catalyst for the Reds’ 40-8 crushing of the Bulls, was criticised for “playing touch football” by Mooney in last weekend’s last-gasp 24-all draw against the Lions.
Speaking from Durban, Mooney said his “midfield” needed match time together and he would make no changes to the halves or centre combinations.
“We will go with Quade (Cooper), Berrick Barnes and Morgan Turinui again,” Mooney said.
Bernie Pramberg writes in The Courier Mail that Cordingley will undergo scans on Tuesday to determine the extent of a calf strain but X-rays have cleared hooker Sean Hardman of a suspected fractured eye socket.
“Sam thinks he will be right, but our medical opinion is not so confident,” Mooney said.
Ben Lucas is on standby for Cordingley, with Will Genia likely to be flown to South Africa as back-up if the captain is ruled out.
The Sharks have an enviable defensive record, conceding just five tries in as many matches. Yet they have won their matches by an average of only seven points.
“They have a very good forward pack and a lot of flair in the backs,” Mooney said.
“There are a lot of Springboks in the side and I’m surprised they haven’t scored more tries.”
In addition, the Sharks squad includes Frenchman Frederic Michalak, while Tongan World Cup ace Epi Taione could make his debut this weekend against the Reds. Taione has joined the Sharks after completing a season in Japan.
Although not dwelling on the 24-all draw against the Lions, in which the Reds scored three tries to two, Mooney is convinced his team should have won.
“They had opportunities in the first 20 minutes, but we created a lot more during the game,” he said. “I really felt we should have won.”
Although the Reds came back from 21-10 down to salvage a draw with two late tries, Mooney was disappointed they were unable to come away with four or five competition points rather than two.Tweet