Cooper now a Rebel with a cause
QUADE Cooper feels refreshed and ready for a coach who believes in him now his Melbourne Rebels' stint has officially begun under coach David Wessels.
Cooper reported for duty in Melbourne on Monday and batted away any feeling that a season out of Super Rugby would dull his timing or skills for the game at the elite level.
As brutal as the call was, the 70-Test figure took no responsibility for being cut adrift from the Queensland Reds by coach Brad Thorn a year ago.
It would be crazy to imagine Thorn did so simply because of the colour of Cooper's boots but, if it was a matter of fading faith, the playmaker feels he has found a fresh believer.
"I don't think it's about changing anything," Cooper, 30, said in Melbourne.
"I feel my situation wasn't about me, it was forced on me through others."
It was a variation on last month's tweet at Thorn that "sometimes you are forced out of the place you love but thank god there's more than one place that loves me."
Cooper said that Wessels visiting him in Brisbane to delve into what made him tick was a key part of linking with the Rebels.
"You've got to have respect for people who respect you by taking time out to visit Brisbane to make their own judgment of me by getting to know me as a person," Cooper said.
Cooper has high hopes that he can create some vibrant new memories with 2011 title-winning halves partner Will Genia at the Rebels.
"I'm very grateful about this opportunity after speaking with Dave because I was ready to play (club rugby) with Souths again," Cooper said.
"Willy and I have a lot memories and it would be great to make some new ones."
Cooper never stopped training hard this season with boxing and private sessions complementing the reduced workload at club level.
"Physically, it has been great to get stronger and rest the body from not as much contact work," Cooper said.
"Mentally, it has probably been the best thing (having a year off elite rugby) to get out of the system and the way it can sometimes overcrowd your thinking.
"I've learnt different things, been a bit of a mentor (with club players) and it's been very refreshing."
It's great to have Cooper's class back in Super Rugby and the Round Seven clash against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium on March 30 will be a must-see occasion.
As upbeat as the seven-win Super Rugby season was for the Rebels, the club still finished ninth and a playmaker like Cooper can add polish.
"Quade is the type of player that we feel suits the way we want to play," Wessels said.
"You expect players of a world-class calibre like Quade, Willy G and others to produce some magic but none of that is going to come without a really well understood framework."