Reds say sayonara, Quade says konichiwa?
QUADE Cooper could be heading for Japan after the shock call from coach Brad Thorn that he will not be starting at flyhalf for the Queensland Reds next season.
The gifted game-controller has played his last game for the Reds after a mesmerising 117-game career because the unofficial hint is that he is free to explore other career options with two years left to run on his contract.
The tremors of a cleanout at Ballymore have stunned fans of the Super Rugby club who only last week were digesting the announcement of a finalised squad for next year's campaign with Cooper and halfback Nick Frisby aboard.
Both senior Reds will canvas playing options at clubs overseas after Thorn told them they had tumbled down the pecking order in their key positions.
Australia's Olympic gold medal-winning sevens star Charlotte Caslick felt so strongly about Cooper being marginalised for no reason that the devoted Reds fan took to Twitter with her dismay.
"There will be even more spare seats at Suncorp Stadium next season without the entertainment of @QuadeCooper #yakidding," Caslick tweeted.
Thorn had a heart-to-heart with Cooper, 29, who had expected to be part of the full-scale return to training by the remodelled Reds squad.
"I've had honest conversations with Quade Cooper and Nick Frisby about where they currently sit in our plans for 2018," Thorn said.
"They're not training with the Reds at the moment and will be training with their clubs instead."
Thorn has made the big call that youngster Hamish Stewart and Duncan Paia'aua are his preferred No.10 options for next season after winning his trust with resonant showings in the title run of Queensland Country in the National Rugby Championship.
Being unwanted in the revival plans of the Reds will sting Cooper because the 70-Test playmaker is devoted to that cause and his loyalty as a one-club figure in Super Rugby is often underrated.
No Cooper will be the end of an era. He has provided Reds fans with many of their most cherished highs over 10 seasons, a 2011 title, breathtaking handling touches and a rare vision to push the limits of the game.
Cooper's career with the Wallabies already appears at an end with coach Michael Cheika not picking him in any squad since his last Test against Italy in Brisbane in June.
It appears the Reds have decided to move on too.
It is a staggering development considering the somersaults that the Reds went through to lure Cooper back from French club Toulon in 2015 on a three-year deal, the biggest at the cash-strapped club.
It is only guesswork but to escape the hurt of paying out the two remaining years of his contract, it would seem logical that Cooper be able to explore playing options elsewhere.
Cooper played 12 times for the Reds this year. He was at his vintage best spasmodically but is still a better game manager today than Stewart or Paia'aua who it appears will be allowed to grow more accomplished in the role.
Thorn puts a high rating on defence and that is one area where Australian Under-20s flyhalf Stewart has it over Cooper.
James Tuttle, long-haired new signing Tate McDermott and Moses Sorovi appear to have backing as halfback options with Frisby on the outer.
The Frisby conundrum is "why now?" because the constant theme on why no play could be made for champion Wallaby Will Genia was the commitment to Frisby's three-year contract.