As if it wasn’t bad enough for the struggling Lions, having to face the in-form-again Reds in Brisbane this weekend after taking a hammering from the Blues, of all people, their opponents this week will welcome back their start play maker from the 2011 season.
Kiwi-born flyhalf Quade Cooper, who found the form of his life to propel the Reds to an unlikely maiden Super Rugby title last year, has been named to start at flyhalf this weekend, after a knee injury sustained in last year’s World Cup has kept him out of action for almost 9 months. Cooper sustained an anterior cruciate ligament tear and the resulting re constructive surgery and rehabilitation has kept him on the sidelines, forced to watch on in frustration as his side have slumped to mid-table mediocrity and are fighting for their lives with only five games left to play.
Their revival started with a resounding win over the high-flying Chiefs last weekend, though and coach Ewen McKenzie will be backing Cooper to be the spark that brings the team back to something approaching what they were in 2011. A good five points at home against the Lions brings the Reds right back into contention for the knockouts, although one feels they will still need a few other results to go their way if they’re to stand even a chance of retaining the trophy they won in such style last year.
Reds: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes
Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Eddie Quirk, 20 Nick Frisby, 21 Chris F’sautia, 22 Luke MorahanTweet