One man's view: Brad Thorn was right - Green and Gold Rugby
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One man’s view: Brad Thorn was right

One man’s view: Brad Thorn was right

Mark the day. 23 October 2018. This is the day that Brad Thorn finally got his way. This is the day that Quade Cooper did not get his way. This is the day that, for better or worse, will define a large part of the Thorn legacy at Ballymore. But ultimately, today (and the preceding 24 hours), is the day that proved Brad Thorn right.

Before everyone replies to tell me that this is just an absolute character assassination of Quade, or that I have it in for him or some other some such guff, let me put this on the record. Quade Cooper at his best is one of the most electric players I have ever seen. His 2011 season, in particular his semi-final performance still gives me goosebumps when I watch it back.

So please, read on and form your own view. Like most of you, I don’t have inner sanctum access or direct lines of contact with any of the players in this drama, but if you look at the years of media, the pieces, the interactions, you can form some conclusions, and these are mine. I’m going to look at a few aspects here; firstly, the type of team that Thorn wants to operate and how Cooper was never properly going to fit into that, and second, whether the actual performances on the park would have warranted a break to that approach.

We all remember the statements back in February from Brad Thorn, words like “change of direction”, “game management” and “decision making” were used as he made it clear that he had no intention of playing Cooper in Super Rugby in 2018. Thorn was the rookie coach in town and word on the street was that his reputation as a no-nonsense player who believed deeply in team culture had followed him to coaching.

Brad Thorn

Brad Thorn

Of course, there is the backstory of personal history between the two dating back to their Bledisloe clashes, but does anyone honestly think the QRU board would have tolerated Thorn telling them that he didn’t want to pick Quade because he was angry about something that had happened many years before? He would have been laughed out of the boardroom.

Given the types of teams he had played for over his illustrious career, anyone who was surprised by this clearly didn’t know anything about the bloke. Broncos, Qld Origin, Crusaders, All Blacks. None of them strike me as teams that tolerate anything less than one hundred percent buy in from everyone and clearly this was what Thorn wanted to instill into a Reds team that frankly had looked like it had given up at certain times over the previous 2-3 seasons.

Now by all appearances Quade seemed to take this on the chin and tried to be the better man in the situation. He initially chose not to react negatively and said he would continue to pursue a path back to the Reds via club rugby. And by all reports he was a great clubman, supporting the team, training hard, working with the juniors. All the while as the Reds season, whilst improving, reached no great heights, especially in the backline.

The tandem of Jono Lance and Hamish Stewart struggled at times whilst also showing glimpses of what could be. Certain sections of the public grumbled. That having Quade back would drive up the dismal attendances. That the Reds would win more if he was there. That Thorn was out of his depth and had botched the first big call of his coaching career. Thorn stood firm and Cooper did not come within cooee of the matchday 23.

Remember that Cooper was not the only one to be shown the door completely or moved down the pecking order. Nick Frisby got the message and went to France, and Andrew Ready battled on but was almost a non-factor. And of course, Karmichael Hunt was persona non-grata for other reasons, but at the core of it, it was essentially the same issue: CULTURE. Late in the season James Slipper fell foul of Thorn, but he is really the only one who might have been hard done by, as much as I understand the reasoning for it.

There have been stories and rumours of Cooper never having really fit in at the Reds, even during the heady days of 2011-12. I vividly remember there being an article that said then-coach Ewen McKenzie gave special treatment to Cooper in terms of tolerating his burgeoning use of social media pre-game. There were well publicised brushes with the law that were mostly, at least in todays terms, ignored.

PHO_4467

Cooper weaving some Wallaby magic

It was then that it was starting to reveal that maybe, just maybe, for all the talent and results he brought in, that it was being balanced out by attitudinal issues. While some might tolerate it to a degree when things are rosy, when they aren’t things can get pretty sticky fast. Take a quick look back at the Reds of 2017, which Cooper was part of. There were occasional glimpses of something but large chunks of ineptitude, and the appearance to outsiders that many players, Quade included simply weren’t putting in.

This is ultimately what got Thorn the job. He had the vision of creating something akin to what he had experienced as a player, and who can blame him. He was part of some mythical cultures in sport over the last 15 years plus, and he would be mad if he didn’t want to try and instill that in the Reds. In Quade he saw a senior player who in his view would not fit into that culture and while you might be able to work with a kid and build him up I suspect there were no indications that there would be anything other than the perception of the ‘all about me’ reputation Quade has.

Rightly or wrongly, that is how he is perceived and that simply wouldn’t work. Just ask many of the All Blacks who suddenly never played for them again after that infamous South African tour, or the amount of talent Steve Hansen has ignored there simply because there was a view that they were not team first.

Modern professional rugby can be mercenary at times, but it seems few people like it when the clubs make the hard decisions. When a player flees overseas or to another club it’s often seen as their right to take their labour. Frankly it works both ways and rather than passive aggressively posting about your work ethic on Instagram perhaps he should have moved on months ago.

Roll forward again to the start of the NRC. Rumours abounded about whether Cooper and Hunt would even be picked in the squad. To be frank, I didn’t see the point if neither of them weren’t going to wear a Reds jersey again. But at some point, I suppose the City management had to make a call about chasing wins and given Thorn wasn’t coaching they got the green light, and to be fair both of them played fairly well, Hunt being more consistent. In the end though City still missed the finals and an opportunity to expose another young 10 to increased competition levels was lost.

Which brings me to yesterday. When any façade of being a team player went out the window, and Quade was just Quade. I can’t compare what he must have felt in February when he was told he wasn’t needed by a team he has won titles for but for him to react in the way he did just shows the true colours. One assumes that the post was made just after the ink had finally dried on the Rebels contract and that he would have been happy about it but to act like that is simply poor. Does Dave Wessels now need to worry that if he drops Quade that he will throw his toys out of the cot again?

The next point is the on field performance of Cooper over the years. I would argue that he is not close to the player he once was and that in truth, while a very, very good footballer, is a reputation built in part on being a member of the Reds in the 2011-2012 golden age, and that since then, has been little more than a slightly above average player.

When you look at the Reds team from that period there are a number of very good players (and some average ones) who all happened to have the best seasons of their careers over that time period. Will Genia, James Horwill, the Fainga’a twins, Digby Ioane, Rod Davies, Ben Daley, and the list goes on and on. There is no doubting the role of Cooper in this period or his importance to the way the Reds played over that time, but the point I am making is that he was one cog in that, and arguably a vital one at the time.

This was a team that played the way I think Quade likes to play; open, wide, expressive rugby with few structures and the ability and willingness to attack from anywhere on the park. He plays very well when the rest of the team is going well but often struggles to ignite or drag a team up when the team is up against it.

Quade Cooper shapes to pass.

Quade Cooper took on the Wallabies for the Barbarians

When Quade returned from his relatively unsuccessful stint in Toulon and his brief excursion into the 7’s game, there was a genuine buzz from some in the rugby community that he was the cure to the ills that had befallen the Reds and also that attendances would rise because kids would be excited to see his ‘razzle-dazzle’ on the park. Both of these turned out to be complete and utter tripe. The 2017 team won precisely one more game than the season prior while average attendance fell by round 4,000 per game.

This was something I never understood in the whole process of Cooper’s return. Hype does not win games, bums on seats don’t win games. I get there has been a pretty bad financial cloud over the Reds for a few years but gambling on someone and seeing attendances go backward probably gave Thorn a fair amount of latitude when it came to his decision.

I recall the boos ringing around Suncorp as inept performance after inept performance was dished up, and worse the team appeared to give up at times. Now it would be unfair of me to put all of that on Quade, but in such a key position, if he was the player in 2017 that he was in 2010-2013 then wouldn’t there have been more results. No, the errors that were tolerated in early years because they were glossed over by the results now stood out as the team seemed to trudge off week in week out.

Even this year, as the worlds highest paid park rugby player, the hype just wasn’t borne out by the actual results. Souths were performing pretty well at the top of the Qld Premier Rugby ladder until a late season slump saw them slide down slightly. Coincidence or not, this slide fairly neatly coincided with the addition to the team of fellow exile Hunt, who wasn’t wanted by Norths after his scrapes with the law.

I saw Cooper play in at least five of the club games, so while not exhaustive, a fair sample size of the season. The games I saw he was very good, as you would expect in that situation, but still the errors he would make in Super Rugby followed him. Not finding touch, kicks out on the full, behind the back passes that missed when a regulation one would have done.

Quade Cooper fires a long pass

Hamish Stewart and Cooper faced off in the NRC with Cooper’s City coming out on top

I happened to mention this on Twitter, without actually tweeting at him. He must have seen it, because he thought to reply with a bunch of laughing emojis. The thin skin he must have had to bother with a no one like me goes to the heart of him. Seemingly more interested in being pumped up by his followers and mates on social media than anything else. I think I even said he had played well but, in his eyes, he only saw criticism.

The minor semi-final was a case in point and really encapsulated Quade. The option of simple shot at goal that would have put them 2 in front with around 10 minutes to play. Instead a crossfield chip that was about an inch too long and ultimately Souths are knocked out. A game manager would not do that. A team player would not do that.

I guess the point of all of this is that while the decision to completely cut ties with Quade Cooper was tough, it was absolutely the right call. I am positive it hurt Quade to have it happen to him, but it was clear that instead of trying a guerrilla campaign via social media to force his way back into the squad he should have been looking elsewhere.

I don’t wish the bloke any ill will at all. I hope he thrives in Melbourne and can force his way back into the mix at Wallaby level as a viable option to Bernard Foley. Ultimately, he is just one man, and I stand firm in my view that Brad Thorn was absolutely right to not cave in, to make his mark and cut him loose. What Thorn is trying to build at Ballymore is bigger than Quade Cooper, and all I hope is the QRU board give Brad Thorn the time to reap the benefits.

Hamish Stewart now has the chance to make this his team and freed from the looming shadows I wish him the best.

Ultimately, I am one guy. A pretty ordinary one who has the fortune of a platform like this to make my point. I desperately want the Reds to be successful, and the sooner we all accept that a short-term Quade Cooper sugar hit isn’t what we need, but rather a complete cultural rework, the sooner that success will come.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Ben, that’s a very well written piece and you bring out some very pertinent points. To be fair I think you are correct in a lot of them. I admit I’ve never really liked Quade as I felt his defensive frailties were never covered by his attacking qualities. However, I think he did get better and I think learnt from his personal mistakes. He was mic’ed up for a game last year and I thought his management in that game was very good. I also think his interaction with the fans is great and I actually think he brings a lot to the game. I hope he does well in Melbourne.

    The real issue for me is that since he left there has been no competition for Foley and we’ve had to put up with his mediocrity for years because there is no competition. Foley has some good points and his place kicking can be good but the lack of competition has led to him not having to develop his skills and work on his weaknesses and as such the Wallabies have had very poor service at 10 for years. Personally I don’t think Foley would make the starting line up in any other team than the Tahs and Wallabies and he does there only because there is no one else. I’d love to see Cooper in Super rugby again just to put pressure on Foley to actually improve.

    Quade may not be the answer but he’s a bloody good option to a very poor test level 10 with no backup and no reason to improve.

    • Andy

      It’s a good move. I think Oz rugby will be better served with QC in Melbourne, Foley in NSW, Stewart in QLD and LLF in ACT. That’s 4 able 10’s with a few backups in Toomua, Mason and Deegan to add some genuine competition.

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Well if Quade is bad enough for you to agree with the way it’s gone down at the Reds and the way he’s had too leave.. .. .why would you want him at wallaby level. You supported him not even being in the Reds squad.. …. ??

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mate I’m not totally against Quade. I certainly would love to see him challenge Foley, but I’m not sure he’s the player he once was. I actually think he’s a very good person who does a lot of good with the fans but I’m not sure he’s still got the same magic in attack. As far as the Reds go I didn’t agree with BT not playing him but I fully support a coach in picking who he/she wants regardless of anything else as that’s their right. I don’t agree with a lot of Cheika’s selections either but I do agree it’s his right as coach to pick who he wants.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          So what are your thoughts on how Thorn handled Quades dumping? Because it kinda looks like your applauding how it happened…..
          And if your not sure if Quade still has it. .. .. have you watched his games at Toulon? What about the 7s tournaments? How about how he played with that wooden spoon South’s Magpies team? Or his NRC highlights maybe? Me personally.. ..considering Toulon and the French comp is full of major talent, the 7s series is also brimming with amazing talent, many fed directly into Super teams. Then of course thetes the NRC, that is full of current and competing prospective and future wallabies…. some playing the same position as Quade…..and I’m sure you’ve heard by now he was player of this year’s comp. Simply watching highlights sells me he never lost his touch, rather adapted, grew and matured into a better player than before.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I don’t agree with how Thorn, the QRU, RA or anyone handled it and I do think the situation could have been handled better. But, I do back Thorn to pick who he wants for his team. That to me is always the prerogative of the coach.

          Yes I have watched Quade play and I don’t think he’s as good as what he was. I think he’s lost some speed and I don’t think his decision making is as good as it could be. I still see some of the same defensive issues as well. I agree he has developed into a much better person and I think it’s a tragedy that QRU weren’t able to make use of him better. I hope he does challenge Foley as by hell that is needed.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I don’t agree with how Thorn, the QRU, RA or anyone handled it and I do think the situation could have been handled better. But, I do back Thorn to pick who he wants for his team. That to me is always the prerogative of the coach.

          Yes I have watched Quade play and I don’t think he’s as good as what he was. I think he’s lost some speed and I don’t think his decision making is as good as it could be. I still see some of the same defensive issues as well. I agree he has developed into a much better person and I think it’s a tragedy that QRU weren’t able to make use of him better. I hope he does challenge Foley as by hell that is needed.

  • Nutta

    Good article. Thoughtful & supported arguments. Difficult to refute. Personally I’m over ‘player power’ and in BT Qld have a guy who humbly and quietly climbed EVERY FOOTBALL MOUNTAIN AVAILABLE TO HIM. And did it under the tutelage of some of the finest coaches to ever grace both codes. So I know who I would be listening to.

    • Huw Tindall

      Proof will be in the pudding (or concrete or whatever Thorn eats after dinner) I guess. See how the Reds develop over the next 2 years. Do they build from the new base that Thorn has set and really step up or do they flounder with a forward pack to die for and backline to send to sleep. If BT brings to coaching half of what he brought as a player I’d be backing him to make something out of the young Qld team he has.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Absolutely. Next year is going to be a bit of a watershed I think. The only issue is how much the RWC affects it. This may give teams room to manoeuvre

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Rwc effectively effects all the teams in a similar way. The Refs are not the only team with Rwc players too offset… .

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah I know but with slightly less games available it may mean he has less of an overall impact

    • juswal

      BT totally dodged the two biggest football mountains available to him: playing rugby for Australia and rugby league for NZ.

      • Nutta

        I snorted my coffee. Good shot.

  • Straith

    This article angers me so much.
    People don’t understand rugby can be played like a game of chess. Ewen mckenzie, Jake White and Steve Hanson are the only coaches I’ve seen who understand this. Every other coach from cheika to your local dad coaching under 13s at club level believe culture can win you the premiership. they think they can make a champion team and they don’t need a team of champions.
    fuck no.
    A team that wins games consistently by tearing shit up on the paddock first, creates the happy team culture as a by product. No adults understand the dynamic of teams filled with egotistic jocks and rugby players. Who the fuck wants to give 100% when you can’t win a game all season and your coach doesn’t allow you to have fun and picks shit players over the good players because he believes in mythical team culture.
    The coaches role is to teach a team how to win, reward good rugby with selection and thence maintain a healthy team dynamic by keeping the players relatively in order. Steve hanson uses his brain and coaching team to create tactics and a team that plays to its strength. Cheika uses his passion to choose a team built on passion and not skill, and thus, gets a team that has showed no passion or skill for 7 years.
    Ewen saw the leader that quade was on the paddock and built a team around him. taught the rest of the backs how to play around him. And managed to get a decent forward pack working together, laying down some good ball. Something every other coach has failed to do, they do shit like put foley at 12 outside him instead… what the actual fuck?

    How dare you watch Quades career and legacy at the reds goto waste at the hands of an all black, Robbie dean’s weekly dinner date, and then claim quade is the one who is bitter and showing his true colours. Imagine you were in his shoes and played insane rugby your whole life just to have some old forwards with a grudge against you block you out from your potential for over 5 years. right in your prime.
    Quade Cooper is nothing short of a hero for A. turning his life around at the age of 23 and becoming an adult whilst a nation and a half hated him, and B. keeping it together whilst he has had to deal with the utter bullshit he has.
    Far out, he even goes to children’s hospitals to spend time with sick kids (go look at his Instagram 3 days ago). But you know, apparently he has a bad culture tied to his name so I guess we will choose staying at the bottom of the ladder.

    • kp

      Shouldn’t you be packing Quade?

      It was a fair assessment, but I am looking forward to watch Quade play next year – this may just be the kick in the backside he needed.

      • Straith

        What kick in the backside does he need? the guys been head down trying to play his best rugby for 5 years now?

      • GO THE Q REDS

        What utter garbage…… the last time he was playing super rugby he was injury free in an impressive last stint of the season. The famous win he constructed over the table topping Brummbies in that last wet game was impressive. His great form earned him a seat at the wallabies where he was promptly left on the bench with no opportunity to even show his wares. And we all know how the wallabies strike rate has been since……. Terrible. He needs no kick in the pants after taking cellar dweller South’s straight into the finals this season aswell as game after game of impressive dazzling runs in the NRC.

        • Slim 293

          The “famous” win over the “table topping” Brumbies? Without wanting to take away all the credit from the Reds for that win, the Brumbies brought all their subs on early because they’d qualified for the finals… it was hardly a career defining performance.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Mate its famous because it’s remembered not purely by one players actions. And yes they were top of the Table,
          winning their conference with everyone backing the Brummbies to dominate the game. .. yet Quade organised a pretty impressive comeback that everyone had rare insight too with a miccd up Quade Cooper so we could hear the plays unfolding.
          But no your right…. . the Brummbies bought on 12yr old hacks who didn’t know how to play rugby because they didn’t want to win that game. As did the Reds.. . .they too bought on their substitute Megastars they were holding in reserve because only they wanted to win. …. :/

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      So only 3 coaches know this. Wow! Mate you need to read what Hansen actually says. He picks culture and team fit over individuals and is open about it. There are a lot of very skilful players in NZ who don’t make the ABs because they lack the team fit. If you don’t believe me look how far Akira Ioane hasn’t gone

      • Gallagher

        Kiwi, if you cant watch a game of rugby and tell the difference between a team that is operating solely on passion, versus one that operates with a plan, that can change it up with the opposition tactics and strengths, then you don’t know what good Rugby truly is all about. Thorn has not shown this once, whereas someone like Hansen or McKenzie clearly have these skills.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yep, the Blues have been a Perfect eg of this in Super rugby recently with their choice of coaches……

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I’m not saying that all mate. The ABs absolutely operate to a plan. Not only that but they change the plan during a game if they need to. They all have exceptional skills and are all very good. All I’m saying is that with all that being equal Hansen will choose culture fit over no culture fit every time.

      • Straith

        well, 3 that I know of.
        Hansen picks players based on his game plan and winning strategy and then does the background check to see if they fit in with the culture.

        Cheika picks players based on how early they rock up to practice and whoever picks up the most cones at the end of training. He puts way to much emphasis on how much he likes the player as a human being/friend and not their ability.

        Im not a parent but i remember hearing something like parenting is more important for your childs development than becoming their friend. Well thats the vibe i get from cheika. Friend of the players and not coach.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I get what you’re saying and I agree with a lot of it. I don’t think Hansen even looks at a guy he doesn’t see as a good team fit. Although I will say he’s just a tad more forgiving than Brad

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Mate Akira Ioane hasn’t made the ABs because he’s kinda well known for still playing 7s rugby a bit. He’s not quite ready. While he’s one of the nest 8s in the world off the back of a scrum….. he still plays in the forwards like its touch footy. Doesn’t make dominant tackles enough, preferring to man handle and grasp at players too often. Playing for the Blues probably doesn’t help his cause either. …

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah but I’ve heard there’s more relating to his attitude as well. I guess time will tell

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yeah maybe but if you’ve watched those two boys come up through 7s…..Reiko has always been far more cocky and had attitude of sorts on the field. (well earned attitude I say) And hes still the same in the ABs. Akira has always shown more maturity. But in my opinion Akiras non selection is primarily based on his PlayStyle…..
          In fact if you remember when they burst on the scene it was Akira who was touted to be an AB first. It’s just there is an awfully abrasive lineup in front of him. What offers isn’t what Hansen is after atm. Reiko demands selection with sheer individual skill. Something Hansen won’t ignore despite Reiko’s slightly aggressive cockiness you mite say.

    • Gallagher

      Couldn’t agree more Straith, what a load of absolute tripe! I could barely get through it all it was so painful to read.

      Just look at what Cheika achieves, he comes in and achieves early success at every team he coaches through coaching culture and passion. Just as Thorn is trying to do. But it never lasts with Cheika, with each team subsequently tanking once the buzz wears off aka the Wallabies at the moment, and the lack of skills and tactics being tought shine through.

      This is such a bogus article. It should be called ‘Brad was wrong’. I am pleased to see Thorn heading down the same path showing that after his first year, that selling culture and attitude simply doesn’t get you results alone, with the Reds barely improving over last year. He has Stiles to thank for giving him that young skilled pack to develop, he has done nothing but destroy the culture so far.

      Quade is a Wallaby legend and its a shame he isn’t respected more for what he has achieved. He will go to Melbourne and the Reds will absolutely get carved up next year, cant wait to see it. One way ticket booked to Melbourne, I’ll come back to my beloved Reds when Thorn is gone, and I’m not ashamed to say it.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        I am 100% with you on that. I struggled to watch the Reds this year, club rugby and NRC have provided a far better spectacle. And I’ve not missed watching ANY super rugby games in over 10years. And with that noted, my unmovable passion and loyalty for the Reds has single handedly been sent down to the Rebels on Coopers back.. …thanks to BRad Thorn. I feel sorry for players like Tongan Thor who came to the Reds to play with the magical QUADE Cooper. And Hamish Stewart. ….. a young extremely underdone flyhalf who could have benefited IMMENSELY having Quade around sharing at bare minimum his vast experience.
        I’m just going to check the calendar again in case it actually is April fool’s.. . ..

        • Gallagher

          Nah April fools I think is today, where Quade has been voted NRC player of the Year.

        • Nutta

          I have to agree in that it is poetic.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Lol that’s quite funny. How many guys look stupid right about now. The funny thing is Quade Cooper would never have said what I just said… . so I did for him.

      • disqus_NMX

        The Reds didn’t “barely improving over last year”, they went from 5th last in 2017 to 3rd last in 2018. That got worse, not better. And that’s with a dominant pack. Imagine how they would have gone with that pack and with QC given free reign to run the backs!

        • Gallagher

          I would have to agree Disqus! I am being too nice for the Thorn lovers out there! Some more stats to dwell on;

          The Bad
          Reds went from 3rd best Aus team to worst
          Reds conceded 30 more points in 2018 with 3 less teams to play than in 2017
          Reds conceded 3 more tries overall than 2017, with 3 less teams to play
          5th worst in points scored in 2017 v 2nd worst in 2018
          5th worst in defence points conceded in 2017 v 4th worse in 2018
          They finished lower in Ranking in 2017 (74.7 v 2018 at 74.9

          The Good
          Reds scored 3 more tries with three less teams to play
          Reds improved for and against on points scored by 40 points
          Reds achieved one more bonus point for big wins/close losses over 2017
          2017 was a 43% home win % v 62% in 2018
          They scored about 60 more points than 2017 with three less teams to play
          Reds went from 4 wins to 6 – with 3 less teams to lose to/beat

          Stats clearly show no significant improvement or decline, in any one area, a very listless up and down season.
          (If your reading this John Tynan, that’s what INFORMED means)

        • John Tynan

          Thanks mate, but reciting statistics does not, in my opinion, necessarily equate to the same thing as being informed.
          What you have managed to do though, is make an argument and support it with some statistics, and up until the last sentence, managed to keep it non-personal.
          Have a great day.

        • Gallagher

          It’s a forum mate, read and respond as you like. If your opinions don’t stand up to the test of reality and facts, then maybe you need to be open to reforming them. I hear forums are good for that, ones that use statistics like this one…

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Wow your not so tuned in are you mate. . .(and forgive me for being blunt but my caps button is broken).
          Did you really just attack my opinions and then state that opinions that contain facts are not nescasarily informed ones? The only time your right there champ is if we’re talking about how often Brad Thorn chokes an opponent…. ..and some one quotes ice-cream preferences for the elderly. :l
          Unbelievable. I had literally nearly given up on this site after last weeks Hamish Stewart motm debacle drew the last straw.
          But then BEN had to go and write a classic for the ages. … .probably going to bed that night dreaming about all the fair weather supporters that would no doubt blindly support and “like” his bold article that no meer mortal would dare broche the subject of. Be talking to you soon.

        • John Tynan

          I’ll use caps lock for you:
          In my opinion, reciting statistics does not NECESSARILY mean informed. Note the conditionality of “my opinion”, which takes into account how far the relevance of those statistics are stretched to back up the author’s claims.
          Some people are very good at using stats to make their argument or put forward their opinions. Others are not. And even more others are not interested in a money ball approach and prefer to go on the intestinal tracts of chickens, position of Pisces in Jupiter’s quadrant or flowering cacti. ie Michael Cheika.
          As Guinness drinkers know, 47.2% of statistics are made up on the spot. Or was it 73%…
          Have a great day.

    • GO THE Q REDS

      About time more people spoke with an INFORMED opinion……instead of continuous dribble of sucking up to the articles author for a few likes. How sad it is when a player like QUADE COOPER who is still delivering sooo much to many forms of society and rugby forums, gets treated as if he deserved to be pushed aside like scum of the earth by some childish forward wannabe coach who’s holding a grudge.
      Any of you who support how Quade has been treated and by extension, this author has promoted. …should be utterly ashamed of yourself.

      • John Tynan

        The way you say “informed” really reads like “agrees with me”.

        • Gallagher

          JT, REDS I think is simply pointing out that using stats is preferable in backing up opinions, than blindly following unfounded opinions, it’s not rocket science.

        • John Tynan

          But the guy is not shy about putting his/her own opinions out and about (not usually backed up by stats, if ever) but also going on to take personal potshots at someone who (a) is writing on the site for the love of it, and (b) made some very well reasoned points in a self titled opinion piece.
          Also not backward in making personal sledges at people who disagree with GTQR’s view (ie “continuous dribble of sucking up to the articles author for a few likes”). Classy.
          GTQR’s opening comment on this piece was a carry over from a diatribe yesterday on a piece also written by Ben, for free, in his own time, and yes, with his own opinion/insight.
          Agree with the opinions or not, but why the need for the personal carry on?
          WRITING IN CAPS doesn’t mean you have a mortgage on passion for Qld, the Reds or even Quade.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Mate I think you need to check yourself. I always refer to statistics or points of FACT. I ALWAYS encourage people to use FOX sports stats. …..i use them religiously so that when I form an opinion, it is at least based on some form of FACT. Feel free too flip through any thread I’ve commented in and challenge my facts. In fact I encourage it.
          And your SORELY mistaken if you think doing something for free or for the love of it, makes your opinion worth more. You earn respect by reporting fair and factual stories. ….not cheap shots with a severe lack of context or compassion for the truth and facts of what actually happened. In this case the author flippantly skips to “a coaches right to choose his own team”…..totally ignoring or even referring to the debacle of Quades contract and the timing of Thorns dississions. Both HUGE factors in this debate. Both skipped over.
          Oh and I’m not here to make friends bud. I comment here because I’m passionate about rugby, and cannot standby and watch fellow punters be brainwashed into thinking what Brad Thorn did to Quade Cooper is fair, acceptable, normal, humane, professional or “cultural”.

        • John Tynan

          Have a great day.

    • Parker

      Not to mention this article has two glaring errors of omission:

      1. It completely overlooks the atrocious coaching the Reds had and instead blames the players of 2017. Very poor reasoning there.

      2.It ignores the fact that Cooper didn’t play in Thorn’s team so the results are all on Thorn – beginning with an aimless and misdirected backline.
      I can’t imagine that a culture of losing is one Reds fans value. And since when did first class professional coaches get a Mulligan on their entire first season? The article talks of Thorn’s legacy without acknowledging that that legacy starts in a big hole of a poor and controversial season. That’s an inextricable part of Thorn’s legacy. The die has been cast. I guess that’s what happens when you place a far greater value on rules than results. And before commenters start reacting as if this is an either/or proposition, please note the comparative term “greater” and understand that what I’m talking about is a matter of degree.

      • disqus_NMX

        Yep, Reds went from 5th last in 2017 to 3rd last in 2018.

        Thorn was gifted a top shelf roster when he ran Qld Country in 2017, so his one single year as a head coach looked pretty good. But 2018 he has the Reds disaster to take charge of, and reality came crashing down.

        The Reds have signed a good attack coach for next year, so it will be interesting to see how much the backline improves. But who would you put money on coming out higher on the ladder next year, Reds or Rebels?!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate that’s going to be so cool to watch next year. I think the Reds forwards are better and the Rebels backs are better. Could actually be quite close

        • GO THE Q REDS

          id argue the Reds front row is better but the Rebels backrow and whole backline is better.

    • Duvstar

      Agree with a lot of that mate. The Reds super rugby winning backline was, on paper, v average. QC had Ben Tapuai, A Faingaa, Rod Davies, Jono Lance and Digby outside him. Out of them, I’d argue only Digby is a top player, and even he had his weaknesses. But QC made them absolutely tick and they ripped it up for a year. We haven’t seen an Australian backline play like that since

      • disqus_NMX

        Absolutely right Duvstar. I’m licking my lips for the Rebels next season. I’d be astounded if QC hasn’t been given the green light to dictate backline play. He’s been on song at Souths and Bris City, even though they both largely have an average roster. And he’s got a wad of quality players at the Rebels to put into holes. There might be a few rusty games early on while the team get used to him, but as the season goes on, I’d imagine we are going to see more and more magic as the other guys learn to trust to put themselves in the right spot to get hit on the chest by QC.

        • Duvstar

          Makes it all the more amazing when you look at the Crusaders side they beat! Starting XV including Dan Carter, SB Williams, Robbie Fruean, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn and the Franks brothers!

          Agree with you on how he’s been for Souths and Bris City. With Naivalu/Hodge/Koroibete/DHP/Maddocks running off him he’ll be very excited

        • disqus_NMX

          Yep and then when Toomua joins the squad it will be Genia-QC-Toomua, which is the exact line up that was destroying international teams at the start of Deans’s tenure (before he inexplicably threw a nobody winger in at 12 and destroyed the team). I can’t wait!

        • Who?

          Genia – QC – Toomua was EOYT 2013 – Toomua debuted in Link’s first test.

        • Slim 293

          Correct. It was a good looking combination at the time, but they were hardly “destroying” international teams considering they were smashed by the All Blacks and lost to England.

        • Who?

          They were still finding their feet against the ABs – and what an inside backs combination the ABs had then! Carter, Nonu. Two of the greatest of all time.
          England… I’m still grumpy about that game – we lost it on two terrible reffing calls which gave England tries (Brown’s foot in touch, and I think the second call was the clear obstruction on Squeaky that wasn’t called). We should’ve been 5-0.
          Not saying they dominated, but they were definitely the best midfield combination we’ve fielded this decade.

        • disqus_NMX

          Hmmm, maybe I have my teams mixed up. I was particularly thinking of that game against France where the Wallabies backline blew them off the park?!

        • Who?

          Think the backline there was Genia – Cooper – Barnes, with JOC and Beale in the backline, too. 2010? 3 years into Deans’ tenure.

        • disqus_NMX

          Thanks Who. Ok damn, thought it was Toomua.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Maddocks will be that guy…..id bet the house on it. Great rugby brain with great vision aswell. Quade has seriously been making guys around him look great for so many years it’s not funny. Everywhere he goes backs pop up outa nowhere, I’d could list dozens of players that have shone primarily when they were positioned outside Quade.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Maddocks will be that guy…..id bet the house on it. Great rugby brain with great vision aswell. Quade has seriously been making guys around him look great for so many years it’s not funny. Everywhere he goes backs pop up outa nowhere, I’d could list dozens of players that have shone primarily when they were positioned outside Quade.

      • Alister Smith

        I think you are taking away a little from Genia’s influence. Quade had an excellent 9 inside him as well. Yes he is very talented but I think it was the combination of Genia/Cooper with Genia making some of the decisions as to when it was the right time to let Quade loose and when it wasn’t. He will have the chance to renew that next year. I think Genia’s comments on the whole issue, which showed respect for both Cooper and Thorn and also acknowledged that both have their limits was probably the best read I have seen of this whole issue.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        People seem to forget that core group still made it too the finals the next 2years aswell. You can’t win everything……but there was some good play in there with what they had.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        People seem to forget that core group still made it too the finals the next 2years aswell. You can’t win everything……but there was some good play in there with what they had.

    • Liam

      Nah youre wrong mate. A bad culture might win some but those wins dont transform the culture into a good one. Every successful team sport dynasty is built on a famous culture of team-first. Thats life. Players that dont fit go elsewhere, hopefully qc will fit in at the team hes signed for and good luck to him. He should have gone months ago lets be honest

  • Huw Tindall

    Great piece Ben. Hat tip to you for taking the time and having the skill to execute a well thought out and reasoned piece. You’ll definitely create some conversation with this one!

    2011 is a long time ago and you are right that Quade hasn’t recaptured the same form since. He hasn’t been terrible but neither has he been up to a BB or Nico Sanchez standard. When combined with perceived, if not actual, issues with attitude/culture then you can understand the reluctance to pick him in the Reds under Thorn. Whether it’s right or wrong I guess will be proved out by 2 things:
    1 – How the Reds build over the next 2 years or so, and
    2 – How Quade performs at the Rebels with a bloody good lineup and under a coach who a lot of people believe is the real deal.

    If nothing else it sets us up for a fascinating 2019 Super season among the Australian sides where you could easily see all of them finishing top (or bottom!) of our log. I’ll certainly be watching more Rebels games to see how the top shelf lineup fares! I’m pretty neutral on Quade – neither a lover nor a hater – so I just hope he goes well next year and we see him at his best. Good luck to all involved and come on Aussie rugby!

    • Parker

      Huw are you saying BB and Nico Sanchez are eligible for selection as Wallabies? Then what’s the point, especially when the Wallabies have a very out of form, field kicking deficient player repeatedly picked as 10. A meaningful comparison is with the 10s available for Wallaby selection. Given the reasoning evident in that comment of yours that misses the mark, I can understand why you think the author’s reasoning is good. Please see my earlier comment referring to some instances of very poor and faulty reasoning.

  • nick51xx

    Easily the most well-written article I’ve ever seen on this site – Bravo!

    I am a huge Quade fan, and I don’t agree with a lot of your points, but I do think that Thorn’s resolve to stick to his guns is a move in the right direction for rugby as a whole. He seems like the kind of guy who has a long-term plan rather than bending to the will of the old boys’ club that is the ARU.

    One thing I’ve mentioned in the past here is that some of the coaches don’t “get” what it means to coach a team of millennial blokes, and think that the stick is the only way to get a performance out of them (rather than the carrot). Say what you will about Boomers vs X vs Y, but I think that Ewen McKenzie understood how using the carrot (i.e. giving Quade the VC, more responsibility off the field, etc) could get the best out of him, and since then he hasn’t been coached properly .

    I don’t think QC will ever get back to his 2011/2012 form, but for Christ’s sake I hope he just finds enough form to put pressure on Foley, who, in ~70 test appearances has played well about 4 times. Fuck Foley is a terrible player .

    • Straith

      Yeh, well said.
      The players need an incentive to play well, and having players who have their jersey numbers super glued on by the coach creates a degree of complacency & lack of healthy competition for both the player hunting that jersey and the player gifted it rightly OR wrongly.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        I’m pretty sure Foley had his 10 Tattooed on… . all expenses paid via Cheika of course.. . ..

    • Geoffro

      Bravo to you as a Quadephile for not turning the flame on the author or BT. (Spanners is fair game though as he really is so mediocre)

  • GeorgiaSatellite

    Cheers Ben. Solid points. One thing I’d mention is the reports of the Reds refusing to release him in 2018 (to the Brumbies, I believe) for less than his full salary. I heard they were offering half (again, mere reports – BL, are you about?). They apparently chose not to mitigate their loss by letting him ply his trade elsewhere. If true, I think I can understand his parting shot being directed at one particular person. Funny photo whatever the context (at each other’s throats, indeed).

    • Who?

      What I love about the photo Quade picked was that everyone who thinks he’s overrated/arrogant/terrible sees that as Quade fending off Thorn, going at his throat, but don’t notice Thorn’s attempt at a tackle. Thorn was a fantastic footballer, I can’t say that I saw him going for an opponents throat that often!
      I’m not saying that Quade shouldn’t be fending a bit lower (it’s not uncommon, and not coached out in juniors as it should be – the junior pathway makes fending to the face a penalty against the fender, but you still see every other kid going into contact with their arm pointing up from the shoulder), but it shows how EVERYTHING about Mr Cooper is ridiculously polarizing.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        I wonder how polarizing the camera shot of Thorn tripping Quade and basically singlehandely costing his team a Super Rugby Championship was?(see what I did there)

      • GO THE Q REDS

        I wonder how polarizing the camera shot of Thorn tripping Quade and basically singlehandely costing his team a Super Rugby Championship was?(see what I did there)

  • Gallagher

    Mark the day. 23rd October 2018.

    This is the day Thorn was proven wrong. With Cooper and Genia running a back line of Maddocks, Naiavalu, Hodge, Korobete, Haylett-Petty with Meakes, Ruru and Toomua in waiting, and a pack full of stars such as Coleman, Mafi, Faainga, Timani, Hardwick, Uelese… they will be the top Aus team next year and gunning for the championship. They will shape the Wallabies run to the World Cup Final. Thorn will be a distant blip on Australia’s coaching ranks once again, and I will have returned to the beloved Reds and forever hold the 2019 Rebels team close to heart.

    Can’t wait, bring it Quade!

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Your kinda wrong. .. .the date will forever be when Brad Thorn chose to announce QUADE Cooper in his 2018 team. ….. then when it was faaar too late in the silly season for any player of his calibre and price tag to find a new gig for that year …. Brad Thorn unceramonially dumps him like a rotten fish. Cast away and treated about as poorly as you could POSSIBLY treat a contracted player. People have such a short memory….. ..

      • Greg

        This is a very fair point. That was poor form by Mr Thorn.

        • joy

          Cooper has been very poorly treated by a very long line of supposed grown ups throughout his career. McKenzie was the only coach who understood him.

          If you’ve got a genius on your hands you support his frailties, not crucify him. I feel sorry for the bloke and my enjoyment of rugby has been seriously affected by the monotonous sniping of his detractors.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I’ve always said the same thing. .. …if a player can dazzle on attack but lacks in defence. … then by gosh you let him dazzle and you make his damn team mates cover for him as much as possible in defence. That’s what teamwork is. Otherwise rugby wouldn’t have players like Damien McKenzie and BBarret. Statistically bad defenders but more than made up for with well known attacking prowess.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I’ve always said the same thing. .. …if a player can dazzle on attack but lacks in defence. … then by gosh you let him dazzle and you make his damn team mates cover for him as much as possible in defence. That’s what teamwork is. Otherwise rugby wouldn’t have players like Damien McKenzie and BBarret. Statistically bad defenders but more than made up for with well known attacking prowess.

    • RugbyReg

      so instead of cutting Quade all Thorn needed to do to be proven right was to sign Naiavalu, Hodge, Korobete, Haylett-Petty with Meakes, Ruru and Toomua, Coleman, Naisarani, Mafi, Faainga, Timani, Hardwick, Uelese…

      • disqus_NMX

        The Reds aren’t exactly lacking for some quality players in their line up! And they’ve discarded quite a few more in the name of the Lord, oops, I mean, in the name of culture.

        At the very least the Rebels would drool at the thought of having Thor packing down, and Jordan Petaia running lines off QC! Imagine Genia-QC-Toomua-Petaita, oh crikey, I think I just blew in my pants.

        • Gallagher

          Sounds like the Wallabies team heading to the World Cup to me…

        • disqus_NMX

          Would/could/should be, but not with Cheika in charge.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          “Name of lord”. Almost snorted my wine on that one mate. Gold

        • GO THE Q REDS

          The proof is in the pudding. … .Weasels and Genia have both confirmed the number 1 issue the Rebels needed was a 10 that could guide and link all that firepower up better. That’s why Quade was sort after down there and it’s also exactly the same reason the Refs struggled thus year, and funnily enough why the Wallabies can’t score tries. What’s the point in having a 9…..and then another 9 distributing blindly outside. They need to be a NATURAL playmaker with vision. Not someone like Foley or Hamish Stewart who are Centres moved in because they’re too small but still have descent ball skills. Those players should be used as COVER.. .. .not linchpins.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          The proof is in the pudding. … .Weasels and Genia have both confirmed the number 1 issue the Rebels needed was a 10 that could guide and link all that firepower up better. That’s why Quade was sort after down there and it’s also exactly the same reason the Refs struggled thus year, and funnily enough why the Wallabies can’t score tries. What’s the point in having a 9…..and then another 9 distributing blindly outside. They need to be a NATURAL playmaker with vision. Not someone like Foley or Hamish Stewart who are Centres moved in because they’re too small but still have descent ball skills. Those players should be used as COVER.. .. .not linchpins.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Huh? what Thorn should have done is not use hollow fake excuses as a reason to treat a player so poorly. When he took the job he was given a list of contracted players and a bank balance to work with. The way Quade was treated was clearly NOT something that was made clear on taking the job….. Otherwise why not reveal it months before potentially allowing a transfer… albeit still a weird one. There is always a very very good reason why certain clubs around the world pay big $$$ for the odd player or two in their team.
        Let’s make it clear once again.. .. what Thorn did to a valuable Marque player was nothing short of groundbreaking in the world of rugby contracts. I don’t see the point of making funny cracks about the serious nature of this predicament.

        • RugbyReg

          yeah, you’re right. this is an issue of national importance. Let’s crank up another Royal Commission.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Huh? what Thorn should have done is not use hollow fake excuses as a reason to treat a player so poorly. When he took the job he was given a list of contracted players and a bank balance to work with. The way Quade was treated was clearly NOT something that was made clear on taking the job….. Otherwise why not reveal it months before potentially allowing a transfer… albeit still a weird one. There is always a very very good reason why certain clubs around the world pay big $$$ for the odd player or two in their team.
        Let’s make it clear once again.. .. what Thorn did to a valuable Marque player was nothing short of groundbreaking in the world of rugby contracts. I don’t see the point of making funny cracks about the serious nature of this predicament.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Not in 2019 with Cheika in charge they won’t. He won’t pick at least 75% of those players

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Bro 75% of them players are in the squad allready. .. . . :/

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Bro 75% of them players are in the squad allready. .. . . :/

  • Andy

    Agree with most points and yes, I agree Quade has that narcissistic nature about him but in fairness, so do most top line sportsmen these days. I mean, most of these guys are from the Instagram Dick pick generation. They don’t really know any better and keeping their mouth shut and opinions to themselves is never really a consideration. No doubt QC’s publicist and/or manager had a part to play in this…. imagine if Twitter and instagram was around in Warneys day? He wouldn’t have reached 100 test test wickets, that’s for sure….

    • Nutta

      It was interesting to listen to Braith Anasta on ‘Back Page’ talking about ‘no dickheads’ policies – one mans DH is another mans top-bloke so to speak. Worth a listen if you missed it.

      • disqus_NMX

        Exactly! Whenever I hear someone say there should be no dickheads, I immediately think, well, you just disqualified yourself, didn’t you, dickhead.

        • Funk

          I’ve sat in that meeting a few times!!!

  • idiot savant

    Brave article Ben. You’ve set every dog in the neighbourhood off. They will bark and howl for days.

    I agree with the thrust of your argument. Quade is a riddle alright, wrapped up in a mystery, inside an enigma…. heres hoping the move does him some good.

    While I think resetting the culture at Ballymore is what the Reds (and the country) needs, the jury is still out for me on Thorn as a coach. Sunday school, prayer meetings, and pressers boasting how tough he was wont deliver strategy, tactics, and a functional backline. He’s cast out the unbelievers, and cleansed the temple. Next year will be the real test of his capacity to lead the Reds out of the darkness.

    • Parker

      He neededto change the culture of the administrators first.

      • disqus_NMX

        Absolutely. And another problem with this culture reset, is you’ve got a guy who clearly has a personal beef, and thus kicked out one of the most loved Qld centurions, a bloke that gives his all to the team and the fans. How the fuck is that good culture?

    • joy

      Good luck.

  • GO THE Q REDS

    I see zero excuses in your essay thst excuse a coach to treat a club hero(or ANY player) like trash the way BRad Thorn did, and also waste Sooo much CLUB money.
    But more to the point, I can’t take your judgement serious after you gave Hamish Stewart motm honours on the weekend despite a Horrific nite with the boot both placed and field kicking….a nite that included a kick directly into touch giving possession away at a key moment, knocked the ball on trying an offload that just wasn’t even on, missing a tackle after rushing out of the line that directly let a try in and like most games this year, having little to do with setting up any tries scored. Amount many other things too. All the honours should have gone to players like Petaia who made no mistakes all night, beat a million defenders and scored 95 tries. Boy o boy you have a low bench mark for a 10.
    No wait……is it April fool’s yet? It must be. .. .Jataka you got me. That would explain such a distasteful unschooled article along with its rather low timing. Oh.. … what a shame it’s not April.

  • Gottsy

    Still think the whole thing has been mishandled from the start. Don’t forget that Thorn made it a public issue the minute he announced to the world that he didn’t want QC anywhere near the squad, wouldn’t even let him train with the team. What kind of message does that send? I don’t care for the reasons or the justification for either side, that was fucked. Yes he stuck by his guns, but to what end? You talk about AB culture- but even they have a road to redemption available if you really want it.
    I’m a one eyed reds supporter and I want nothing but success for the team, but Thorn getting rid of these blokes that were holding up massive chunks of the salary cap after watching them for a season as assistant (too late to get proper contracts elsewhere btw) instead of keeping them in the squad and telling them that should start looking elsewhere isn’t a great way to build “culture” in my books. Fuck playing for a team like that.

  • Who?

    Ben, your article is well written, but there’s a few flaws to it.
    Firstly, you’ve implied that a new coach who’s been rushed into the job by a desperate board would have to justify any of his decisions. He didn’t just dump Cooper, he dumped Frisby and Vanzati straight up. He’s come in and said he wants a new direction, he wants to set culture, he was given carte blanche. That’s enough to justify not selecting players and moving them on. And given too many in the QRU are in awe of League players, they probably don’t even remember the penalty he gave away for tripping Cooper in the 2011 SR Final…
    In terms of raising issues about culture and ‘brushes with the law’, you’re referencing issues pre-2011. Whereas there’s Wallabies who did stupider things more recently who don’t live in the shadow of their poor decisions. I’m not complaining that we aren’t talking about the shortcomings of other players, I’m only advocating an equal standard. I’m not one of those who says, “Didn’t we all do stupid things when we were kids?” Because I’m not one of those people who did stupid things. Never copped a speeding ticket, the only time I went into a police station was because I was building it. So I’m not justifying poor behaviour. But time’s passed, the pattern of behaviour is no longer there, time to move on. After all, even Thorn would admit he wasn’t an angel in his youth, he was just lucky that his youth was 15 years earlier and predated social media. The Broncos didn’t have a great reputation around Brisbane for good behaviour…
    If you’re going to complain about McKenzie allegedly giving Cooper preferential treatment as a kid in 2010/12, then why not look at the current national coach doing the same with his favourite players? And maybe we should consider the outcomes both coaches achieved? Both outcomes were exceptionally positive…
    In referencing the 2017 season, you’ve not at all mentioned that Cooper played most of that season injured, or discussed the complete incompetence of the Reds D. The attitude in defence was terrible in 2017 – it was all about making big hits, after which they’d all fall off the tackle. Then we move onto ball retention. The breakdown was weak, the pack was out of shape. Simmons admitted he was out of form, Douglas wasn’t good enough to get past the bench most of the time, and Liam F****** Gill had abandoned hope and departed. In every game, by halftime, the pack looked gassed. Which Cheika pointed out in June, when he complained about the fitness of the players coming from their Super teams. The Reds were as bad as any of them. So Cooper spent most of the second half of the games kicking for territory. Which saw spectators complain about him not wanting to play, without considering that, if your pack is gassed, the correct tactic is to keep the ball in front of them and play territory, not ask them to work incredibly hard to retain the ball and run down the field.
    Your comment, “Perhaps he should’ve moved on months ago,” conveniently overlooks the contractual situation. Cooper had a contract that specified all he needed to do was be available for the Reds (I don’t believe playing club is a requirement) and he’d be paid. There were many rumours that he’d been wanted by the Brumbies and then the Rebels, but he needed to be released by the Reds, and wanted to be paid. But the Reds were widely said to have refused to top up his contract at the other clubs. The QRU decided they’d rather pay a bloke his full salary to do nothing, than to pay him a small portion of it to go away. If they didn’t value him, surely it’s better to save money and get rid of him?
    Regardless, the point is that your statement implies that Cooper was the sole master of his contractual situation, forgetting that he – like all of us – has financial commitments (he’d just finished renovating his house, in Brisbane) and family. Not many people can afford to give up five figures of salary, a bloke coming towards the end of his rugby career’s no different.
    In terms of throwing toys out of the cot, he’s only once referenced his contractual situation at the Reds negatively, his most recent posts. And it wasn’t February when he was told he wasn’t wanted – it was a year ago, just after Thorn took over, two days after the team announcement. So it’s not ‘just’ 8 months of frustration, it’s 12 months. It’s not perfectly handling a situation, but there’s certainly a decent amount of restraint there.
    You’ve argued that Quade never regained his 2011 form. I don’t think that’s truly accurate. In 2011, he started the year in great form, and was coached out of it. Through the 3Ns, he was coached out of form, and by the RWC, he was clearly short on confidence. His national coach was no assistance to him – just as he also failed to assist the other 10’s he selected over the years (Giteau, Barnes, Beale, JOC – all burned by Deans). In 2013, the Reds’ game against the Lions was an absolute corker, all based off Cooper running the show (remembering that Genia was on ice for the Tests). It was a significantly understrength Reds team against a rather strong Lions outfit, and they found tactics to make a game out of what should’ve been a demolition. The 2013 EOYT was the best series of 5 Tests matches by an Australian 10 this decade. In the years since, Cooper’s struggled with injury and generally been behind packs that have little understanding of fast ball, so it’s hard to determine exactly where his personal form sits. Because it’s linked with teams who have been, generally, rather poor. You can’t blame your 10 for a team’s inability to defend or retain possession.
    You’ve also said that Cooper likes to play a wide, unstructured game. I believe that’s false. Wide, sure (he clearly didn’t enjoy the plodding game at Toulon!), but unstructured is inaccurate. I believe McKenzie’s game plans – with Jim McKay (the best signing the Reds have made since 2011!) – were far more structured than many appreciate. There were key objectives on how and where to attack, the team knew them, and they achieved those objectives. Fast, wide, unstructured overlooks the fact that Cooper and Genia kicked away 44% of possession in 2011, 2nd most in the competition. They weren’t fast and loose, they were purposeful. Link developed as a coach under Macqueen and Eddie Jones – he knew how to play programmed Rugby. But he also recognized that he needed to trust his on field leaders to adjust the game plan as necessary – something he learned from Macqueen. Structures are put in place to create opportunities that can be exploited, and the Link era Reds were an excellent example of that.
    Ultimately, it’s terrible that the Reds have sacked or failed to re-sign 4 of their 7 100 cap veterans in the past 18 months. They moved on Simmons, Slipper, Cooper and failed to re-sign Genia. What does that say about club culture?
    I do think it’s fair that Thorn is moving people on. He’s not obligated to play anyone. I don’t have much confidence that a bloke who was best known for his physical preparation (still rules the QRU gym) and still has pretty well no experience coaching (seriously, I’ve coached more than him – playing under good coaches doesn’t count for much, studying under a great teacher might make you a great student, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a great teacher) is the right man for the job, or that he’ll get the job done. I see glaring shortcomings in some of the things he’s done this year. But he’s the coach, he should be allowed to pick and choose who he wants.
    What’s not acceptable is that the Reds have shown disrespect to men who’ve given their all for the club. Simmo got a last game (Quade kicked a penalty to win it at the death), the other two ‘sackings’ haven’t. Their departures haven’t really even been mentioned. You don’t announce a squad and then two days later come out and ban guys from training at their workplace. You don’t inhibit their capacity to ply their trade elsewhere, as the QRU did by not coming to terms to continue to pay part of Cooper’s salary. That’s cutting off your own nose to spite your face. At the end of the season, Thorn had over $1.6M of Wallaby talent sitting at home – how’s that a good use of QRU funds?! The whole thing has been mismanaged.
    Cooper is the most polarizing player of this century. He’s either the golden child or the problem child. There is no in between for most people. An article stating that Thorn, as coach, has the right to pick his own team would be fine. But there’s no need to drag Cooper’s name through the mud to justify that. And there was no need for the QRU to play the game as they did. No one is truly innocent here, though it’s quite arguable that Cooper is the least at fault.

    • idiot savant

      Its the forwards fault, its the defence’s fault, its the coaches fault, its the plodding French’s fault…. none of it is QC’s fault. I predict that next year it will be Wessell’s fault. Thats QC, the only one in step.

      • Custard Taht

        Aren’t these the same excuses being trotted out in defence of Foley?

        • idiot savant

          Foley doesn’t have any faults. Does he?

        • Custard Taht

          Depends on who you ask. But in general, yes, Foley is the best 10 in the land, without fault and deficiencies.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Ba-Boom!

      • Who?

        I’m not saying that Cooper was perfect in 2017, I’m just saying that it’s hard to judge him in isolation to the rest of the team, and the rest of the team was abysmal. How do you win games when you constantly give away easy territory and points? How do you play a possession-based game (I’m assuming that’s what Stiles wanted, given the complaints Cooper didn’t follow the game plan, and given Cooper kicked a lot in the second half across the season) if the forwards need a breather? I’m saying that it was a tough situation, and we can’t say Cooper was great or terrible when it wasn’t really a season for backs. The forwards determine who wins and loses, and last year, they determined the Reds were losing way more than they won.
        The plodding French, that was a mistake on Nasser’s behalf. Clearly Cooper and Nasser didn’t do enough research to know whether or not he’d be a good fit at Toulon. It’d be like Hooper going to Toulon. I don’t think Hooper’s a great openside, but I do think he’s a great Rugby player. And I think his style would be similarly stymied at Toulon. Doesn’t make him a poorer player, just makes him poorly utilised. Like playing Beale at 10 – doesn’t make him a poor player, just makes him poorly utilised, so everyone complains he’s not up to the task, when the reality is he’s just being used incorrectly.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I understood exactly what you meant. …. taken in context a player is only responsible for certain parts of a game and how it turns out. Sadly Quade is one of those players blamed for losses and overlooked or vilified for bedazzling/risk taking with wins. 2016 stats had QUADE at a bare minimum equal to Foley on all accounts.. ….but take into account the first 2/3rds of the year Quade played injured, plus each teams overall performances it tells a story. It’s not black and white sometimes.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I understood exactly what you meant. …. taken in context a player is only responsible for certain parts of a game and how it turns out. Sadly Quade is one of those players blamed for losses and overlooked or vilified for bedazzling/risk taking with wins. 2016 stats had QUADE at a bare minimum equal to Foley on all accounts.. ….but take into account the first 2/3rds of the year Quade played injured, plus each teams overall performances it tells a story. It’s not black and white sometimes.

    • disqus_NMX

      Who?, you are a wise man, and an absolute font of rugby knowledge. Always a pleasure reading your comments.

    • Nutta

      The bit that always puzzled me is the chat that Qld stymied QC going elsewhere. I’m not Drew Mitchell so I’m not in the inner sanctum to know contract particulars. But I do know business and if you can offload an unused and expensive asset you bloody well do so quick smart even if you take a wee haircut doing so. Not because it has any moral reason – simply because it’s good business.

      Getting the obvious out of the way upfront, I’ve never really been a fan of any of the 3 Amigo’s. My issue with QC beyond toxic, hot-tub, twitter-test, alleged illegalities etc – quite rightly cited as being some time ago – was the high-risk flamboyance when low-percentage would not only work but win. As an age-old frontie I despise people (generally Backs) who don’t look after a pill I smashed myself apart getting for them. It’s indicative of a complete disrespect for team-mates.

      But that’s only my opinion and it’s not what I’m talking about in this comment.

      What I am talking about is that if Qld did not want him (self evident) then why stop him from going elsewhere by the alleged funny-buggers with contracts? If true that smells really vindictive. That’s not business. And in my experience, business people only do that when there is a really really good reason for doing so and they are sending a message by doing so. That means there is something else going on I/we don’t know about. And I dare say we never will.

      Funnily enough, this leads me back to another argument for centralisation of rugby contracting in Oz. If RA held the head-rights to the contract then THEY tell QC (or anyone else in limbo) where they are playing or it’s breach of contract. Fixed. Simples.

      • Who?

        Nutta, I completely agree with your points about contracts. The whole thing makes no sense. The fact that both the Brums and Rebels were flagged as being interested, I just can’t see why the Reds kept him and wasted money. That’s where it looks personal, because there’s just no other explanation that has any shred of logic to it.
        And I agree about centralized contracts. IN fact, given the situation this year, I’d imagine that RUPA would even be on board for that sort of logic, because it’s seen a few guys in awkward positions.
        IN terms of being ‘An age-old frontie’, that discipline is why I believe former forwards – especially guys who didn’t make it to the top level – are better coaches. Half spend their time dreaming how they’d use the ball if they had the chance to run around in the backs, and all of them are grumpy disciplinarians who want to make sure the backs don’t waste that hard earned possession.

      • Singapore Sling

        Nutta, I suspect there were some in the Reds board who were hoping Thorn would change his mind and they were having an each way bet. If the rumours of Thorns appointment not being unanimous are true I can see how this could happen.

        • Nutta

          My old dad used to say ‘Don’t be surprised when a sheep grows wool Boy.’ It means if you set something up to happen, then don’t be disappointed when it does. He usually used it on us when we did something stupid or half-arsed which meant failure was more likely. This may well be a classic application of the old man’s logic; that a guy like BT would do what he said he would do.

          If what you say is true then that only reinforces that Qld rugby’s issue is far far deeper then the culture of the playing group and coach in isolation.

        • Xaviera

          The Reds holding onto Cooper doesn’t make sense because it’s not true. Cheika and RA organised for Cooper to be offered a role at the Rebels earlier this year, a fact I heard Cheika himself, in person, confirm on 10th May. The reason Cooper didn’t move is because he, Quade, didn’t want to move, and due to the contract structure and the lack of RA leverage, he was not obliged to do so. I suspect he thought he had enough emotional capital that he could outlast Thorn, but somewhere along the line he’s worked out, no doubt with some help, that such a belief was mistaken and therefore the Rebels options was the only really pathway back to the Wallabies. I’m not convinced Cheika would select him, notwithstanding Cheik’s involvement with getting him to Melbourne, unless he was caught with multiple injuries in a short space of time (Foley down, Beale down, Toomua down, perhaps even Stewart down).

          BTW, the article is well considered, and for me, someone who is not a Reds supporter, and therefore somewhat more dispassionate about the issue, it smells about right. Well done.

        • Nutta

          By that account then the whole thing is pretty much self inflicted, possibly with the ‘help’ of whisperers on the Board as others have alluded to. Sad. Destructive. And completely a pointless waste of time when even the very best players have a 10yr window only to capitalise on.

        • Xaviera

          That was Cheika’s frustration – Cooper had been thrown a lifeline, and chose not to grasp it. Now he has, but not without causing angst along the way, all of which supports Thorn’s original thesis, which from afar, looks correct.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yeah yeah and even Larkham jumped on the pity wagon about Quade moving clubs. … hinting it was his way back into Wallaby contention. Now considering the last season he played and was selected for wallaby duties, and NOT used. ….I’m not so sure his words or Cheikas would have been very convincing. They would have been far better off using their breath appealing to the Fresh coach of the Reds to tap into the Wealth of Playmaker knowledge they had sitting right there. Young players desperate for guidance and clearly shown throughout the whole season. …. .and then allow the other teams to actually put REAL offers on the table for Quade instead of when their books are ALLREADY full and the coffers empty. It’s not that hard to understand really. I’m surprised so many people don’t understand who silly season and team funds work. …. …especially if your the player ALLREADY with the long contract.

        • Singapore Sling

          So Cheika says he threw Cooper a lifeline? That still does not address if that lifeline maintained full compensation. Reports from various sources suggest it was not and we’ll probably never know. I have no doubt Quades personal position in negotiations may have been obtuse and that’s understandable. The reality is the permutations from all sides are numerous and to suggest Cooper is responsible for the “angst” is laughable.

          If I was in Quades inner circle or family I would have advised him to stay in Brisbane, play for the Magpies, stay healthy then take a Japanese gig in 2020. There is no chance of Cheika selecting him for the RWC unless Qantas subcontracts the flights to Malaysian Airlines.

        • Who?

          Not saying you’re wrong, Xaviera, but this is the first time we’ve heard that the Rebels deal wasn’t held up by finances. That’s what many in Brisbane were saying months ago, when it was happening. If it’s true, it’s a bit sad.
          At the same time, as I was asking at the time, what benefit was there for Quade in moving? A Wallaby jersey? Does anyone really think that Cheika was ever going to select him this year..? Instead, he’s being asked to spend significant coin to relocate away from family and friends in order to work harder for the same pay… Without any fringe benefits (i.e. possibility of national selection, because Cheika’s made it pretty clear by his history that Quade won’t wear gold whilst he’s still coaching. Note he did say in his Rebels announcement that he’ll be ENJOYING (capitalization was his) his Rugby in Melbourne). Where’s the incentive? Especially when he could still plausibly hold out hope that he might outlast Thorn – it’s not like any other coach has lasted long at the Reds recently.
          Perhaps that’s the relocation thing that people said the other week was the last hold off on his move – that he wanted to be compensated for having to move?
          There’s arguably more benefit in him moving this year, as it gives him a chance to showcase his abilities at Super level before trying to go overseas next year. Perhaps that’s what got him across the line?

        • Xaviera

          Pretty simple benefit – play Super rugby and therefore be in the frame to play for Australia – Cheik said he wouldn’t pick him unless he was playing Super rugby. RWC next year, and people get injured, so who knows? But he was never going to be selected if he was only playing club footy. Plus, he gets to play in a team that wants him, from the coach down.

          I’m glad he has made the move, just disappointed he didn’t do it sooner. I don’t know the exact details of the money, but his RA top-up figure wouldn’t have changed, and the cost of relocating would not be that significant in the overall scheme of things.

        • Who?

          That assumes that Cheika would pick him if he were playing Super Rugby. And, going off the evidence of 2016 (Foley ‘dropped’ to 12 for poor form, Cooper plays 10 better, then is dropped for EOYT off Foley not improving in form but the win/loss ratio for the year improving) and 2017 (Cooper needed to be ‘enjoying’ his rugby, not selected, Hodge picked as back up fly half for the Wallabies despite never having played there at Super level, Paia’aua picked at 10 against the BaaBaa’s in spite of playing 12 all year for the Reds – clear signs Cheika was looking for anyone but Cooper), it’s pretty well the same situation he was facing at the Reds. Where the incumbent coach would find a heap of guys who hadn’t ever played the position rather than pick him. Honestly, how deep was he going? He likes Foley, he’s used Beale this year, he’s played Toomua at 12 but has stated in the press that he sees Toomua as a 10 (why he’s not picked him there, I don’t know). So at this point, there’s at least 5 in front of Cooper (Foley/Beale/Toomua/Hodge/Paia’aua), and it wouldn’t surprise me if he found others to jump in there (Leali’ifano, Stewart, Maddocks), because he’s clearly been looking for alternative back up 10’s beyond Cooper.
          Cheika’s the national coach, he gets to pick the team (which many don’t like, but I’m not drawing attention to it purely in reference to Cooper), and if he doesn’t see fit to use a player, that’s his call. I’m not arguing that, not complaining about it. But if he’s clearly shown he won’t pick a player, then selection in the national team isn’t a carrot that will work to motivate a behavioural change.
          In terms of the money, I’m sure the final outcome now is that the money’s the same, but even with that, the cost of moving might seem insignificant, but it’s not just the cost of the move. You’re looking at someone who had just finished setting down serious roots. He wasn’t a 22 year old, he was 29. He hadn’t just purchased a house, he’d renovated it. That says he’s looking to stick around for a while. So it’s the cost of moving, of maintaining the house close to family (because everything about it looked to say it was his long term home), of having accommodation in the new city, and the costs of maintaining relationship where he was (i.e. what’s his partner doing? Constant flights?).
          Family is a factor that may not be a big deal for some, but it’s definitely a factor for others. It wouldn’t surprise me if it helped retain players in Australia, just the fact that you’re looking at flights whenever you want to see your family. Some people are happy to move around the world – my mother-in-law moved to Australia at 21 and only saw her mother twice more in her life. But she wasn’t worried if she’d not seen her mother again. My father moved to England at 15, and then out here 5 years later. He saw his mother again, but not his father, and wasn’t stressed about either. Whereas my family – myself, my wife – we couldn’t do that near as easily. In some ways we could, but we recognize extra costs, we know that other members of the family couldn’t deal with not seeing our kids again, and so that concept stopped us moving across the country 8 years ago.
          I’m not saying the cost is insurmountable, but I’m aware that the cost is weighed differently by us all.

        • Nutta

          Ok, so whilst none of this is an absolute argument, there is always bleed and cross-over, I find it interesting to ask what motivates a (this) player?

          1. Financial

          2. Personal. Personal is split into 2 sub-categories:

          2a. Personal – footy. Being the best I can be means playing as high a level as possible

          2b. Personal – lifestyle choices. Family, kids, weather, travel etc

          I’ll say upfront these are all perfectly acceptable motivations.

          1. Financial needs to be considered against window. A pro footy player has an average of 3yrs and a maximum of 12yrs to work within. So if I was QC and I was talking that issue i wouldn’t be in Oz at all. Hello Europe or Nippon. That said, if back in Oz but then stuck in an ugly situation, that means doing nothing that would hurt my market value thereafter. Therefore move to Donkeys/Rebs last year – even if taking a haircut – is the only logical outcome to maintain or lift my market value through which to return to Europe etc once off-contract (if motivated by $$). or bugger it altogether – ask for a release and just go straight back OS if it’s $$ that moves your booty.

          Therefore process of elimination means it’s 2.

          If 2a is the motivation, then logically move to Donkeys/Rebs last year even if taking a $$ haircut (which isn’t a motivator or we wouldn’t be here) so as to be back in that picture. Arguably you may do it anyway to maintain market-value (bleed back to 1).

          If 2b is the motivation then stay where the heart is – in Brisvegas – because that is where you are happy.

          But the implication of any of the 2a or b choices is that it is not financial. Therefore it’s personal. That makes it wholly & solely QC’s choice. Now if it is indeed QC’s personal choice for 2b and to stay in Brisvegas then there is no basis for any of the unarguably personal nature of QC’s parting shot at BT.

          Or is my logic wrong?

        • Who?

          I agree Nutta – this is a really interesting conversation, and one that isn’t fully understood. Given Kev Horwill’s just written a 36,000 word thesis on why Australian players move to Europe, studying their motivations, it’s a current conversational topic, and one that could be educational for us all. I’m just making my own guesses – though I don’t have much confidence that RA would be any more enlightened than me.

          On Financial calls, I think Quade has probably decided that he’s either playing in Australia or Japan. I think Toulon probably made him realize that the game over there doesn’t suit his style, and so I don’t think he’d be offered the same value as Toomua if they were both going to France (given Toomua’s style at 10 is more traditional and he’d be fine playing 10 man rugby, where Cooper would grow frustrated).
          So that leaves the UK and Ireland. But not Ireland, due to their centralized contracting system, and not Scotland, because it’s too shallow a pool, and not Wales because they do central contracts, too. SO it’s only England. English Premiership Rugby would suit Quade better than Top 14. But even England is trying to go more localized with selection, I believe they’re working harder than France to lock down eligibility (i.e. quotas).
          That leaves Japan. But is the level there of interest, and is the money significantly better than he’s currently getting? It might be better, but there’s a cost to change, and the question then is whether the cost of the change is worth the extra recompense.

          You’ve then broken down point 2 into Footy and Personal.
          If you go Footy, straight footy, then the place to be last year was probably the Rebels. A decent roster hamstrung by the lack of a top flight 10.
          If you go with Personal, straight personal, then he stayed in Brisbane last year because he liked it there. Fair enough.
          Where I differ is I intertwine them all, and add an extra emotional element. In financial terms, everyone has their price. I’m sure that had Suntory come along and offered him $1.2M, Quade would’ve jumped. But if he’s on $650k and he’s offered $700k, is the extra $50k to move overseas a big enough carrot? Cost of living is higher, family costs are higher – both financially measureable (airfares, etc) and emotional (strain on relationship, etc). I’m sure that a big part of Toomua’s motivation for moving to the Rebels is that his wife just signed to play cricket down there.
          I wonder if, after a decade of international Rugby, Quade was tired. If he thought that a bit less pressure would do the body some good. He played his last Super campaign injured, it certainly wouldn’t hurt his body extend his career if he gave it a relative break.
          Family is Brisbane-based, his home, etc. But if we’re talking personal, we should also consider his ties to Ballymore. He’s never played for an Aussie club professionally outside the Reds. His experiement with Toulon wasn’t enjoyable (he chose to come home, rather than take his contract extension). He was playing alongside some guys he’s been with for almost a decade (though I think only Higgers is left now), given his time at Ballymore goes back to the Eddie Jones season (feels wrong to call a season an era!).

          If you combine all those factors (i.e. no significant financial incentive to move, weariness – he’s the same age as Pocock, Pocock had last year off – and emotional ties to all forms of family and home), I don’t think it’s hard to see why quite might – might – have wanted to try and stay and get back into Red. That’s my guesses – none of us can truly know. And if you factor in that Ballymore and Suncorp were home, then the parting shot’s quite understandable. If you’d been part of a club – often the most visible face in the club – for a decade, and some outsider (Thorn never played Rugby in Qld) comes in and pushes you out, you’re going to be emotional.

          I think it’s really sad the Reds have lost 4 of their most capped players. 2 of them weren’t even acknowledged in their departure. I think it was handled really badly. I’m disappointed Thorn didn’t try and work with Quade, because there was hope he could’ve made Quade better. I accept Thorn (and Cheika!) has the right to pick his team. But there could’ve been more respect and more willingness to work through this better – better with the fans, and better with the player. Because the player couldn’t be pushed out (not without significant cost), and the player wasn’t given incentive to leave (i.e. no monetary incentive). Instead, it was attempted by what appears a bullying manner – being excluded from all that was familiar (facilities and friends), and left to grow lonely. That’s pretty shabby, we should be better than that.

        • Nutta

          Good reply. Valid points. And you are right – on the face of it, it could have been done better. I have a near-20yr association with a particular club and after being treated in an amazingly obnoxious manner last year I haven’t played for them since. And I won’t until/unless it’s made right. So this year I played all over the place (wore 5 different jerseys as a John Doe!). My point is, when you have a connection somewhere it’s bloody hard to play elsewhere. I get that.

          Where can I find Big Kev’s paper?

        • Who?

          Mate, that’s horrible. I figured you’d know about attachment to a club, I didn’t realize you’d been pushed out. I really hope they fix things up better than the QRU. There’s gotta be a chance – admin’s often better at club level than at Ballymore, or (as you reference) at Moore Park and (formerly?) St Leonards…

        • GO THE Q REDS

          The thing is Quade is fully aware that he could be legless and named on the Tahs bench in 20 years time and he’ll still be the draw card that alone pays for his salary. Same as now. I’m not saying he plays that card alone but it’s a huge card at the negotiating table. And this time around he still had another whole year to buffer his next agreement. .. giving him plenty of time to sort the ness Thorn created out

        • GO THE Q REDS

          What utter garbage. …..you appear to be leaving out a massive key fact in your story. How much were those offers during the season?

        • Gipetto

          The hapless 2018 Reds couldn’t afford to have a player of Cooper’s ability playing for another franchise. All Coach Goon could do is drop him , he could not arrange for Cooper to play elsewhere.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        EXACTLY. Now unless Thorn made up his mind at the very last second that he wanted to move forward with his own strong culture and team building…it makes no sense. I wonder what he used to the board to sell his services if not his new culture? The whole thing was a mess, a joke and with zero transparency. Anyone who supports thst is bad for Aus rugby!

      • Parker

        I thought we were talking about rugby players not slaves.

        • Nutta

          I’m not being smart but I don’t get your point. Clarify?

        • Parker

          I was referring to your closing sentence referring to a head contract that denies players the right to choose their employer. Your statement about the RA being able to dictate where an individual plays smacked of the slave master.

      • Parker

        I thought we were talking about rugby players not slaves.

      • iTm

        Nutta,
        The Player contacts are a tangled web of Base rates, topups and performance bonuses.
        My understanding (Correct me if I am wrong) is that the franchises take the first $300k into their salary cap. the rest of Coopers’ $800k tab is picked up by the ARU, … maybe. It gets a bit weird after that, I think that the Reds may pay some of that either directly or “renting” him from the ARU. It is all a bit mental.

    • Parker

      Very well said Who?. Thank you for writing this at a time when I was just too incensed to manage anywhere near as sound a rebuttal to the demeaning hatchet job of an article.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        I too was raging but gave it a red hot crack…….as should we all.

    • Brendan Hume

      This is an excellent counter-point and should be a flagged comment on the article.

    • joy

      Here here. It’s amazing how the facts always manage to spoil a good story.

      I see Cooper getting on well with Wessels. And Cooper, with support from Genia, getting the most out of those outside backs that have been underused for years.

      Incidently, I wonder how Genia sees all this?

      • Bernie Chan

        Sanchez probably couldn’t be happier…the bros are back…! Toomua also a Brissy lad…

      • GO THE Q REDS

        There’s an article about Genia’s view. He obviously pretty happy Coopers head in down as hell fill the exact thing they’ve identified as their biggest weakness from previous years. He also sits on the fence about Thorn simply stating he at least has stuck to his guns with his decision. Hmmmm

        • Singapore Sling

          Genia might be playing politics too. Thorn could be the next wallabies coach based on RAs historical stupidity.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          No doubt about that. His comments were clearly tactical.

    • Gallagher

      Only one thing wrong with this… ahh who am I kidding, that was epic stuff Who.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Well written Who. Like everything in life there are always 2 sides to the story. You have articulated yours very well indeed. On ya!

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Probably should cut n paste this over the original article. Very well said as usual WHO. ……Only thing I think you missed was some detail on Quades form in France. It was great. What fell foul was a combination of the bosses at Toulon not initially wanting to release him for higher honours(building a sour relationship through no fault of his own as he had a clear clause to play for Aus) and the fact that the Cooper flair often was asked to be curtailed by Deanesque French forward dominated thinking and gameplay preferences.
      Come to think of it I’ve seen no mention either of Quades defensive abilities in the NRC this year. I’ve seen it all and I’m struggling to remember many, if any missed tackles the whole season. I certainly remember him putting his body on the line putting in some big hits as needed. ……NOT just for the sake of it which I see as an amazing skill for a 10 to have.
      Good read Who!!

      • iTm

        I didn’t see too much bad defence either, but not a lot of good. Spends a lot of time in the 14 defence position, which doesn’t see a lot of traffic, at NRC anyway. Same way Folau is managed, Hidden in D, Rolled out like a siege weapon in counter-attack.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Exactly….. and as I say constantly…… 10s are not in the team for defence…. rather attacking vision and creating opportunities. A 10 who at minimum caries there own on defence and offers what Quade does on attack should be heavily sought after…..imho.

        • iTm

          I don’t think Quade carries his own in defence. He has more cards than a Pokemon collector, most from rubbish tackles. The modern game is 15 man, not the archaic 5/10 attack defence rubbish that Cheika is promoting.

  • Alister Smith

    Thanks Ben. I enjoyed the article and the comments its generated have also been entertaining, confirming if ever there was any doubt what a polarising character Quade can be. It appears you either love him or hate him with very little in between. I personally have gone from never being much of a fan to being a bit of a fence sitter these days. I think he has overcome or improved on some of the things that limited his play before but I also think he has struggled with injury in recent years and I think this will be the biggest test for him coming into Melbourne next year. He was running around on one leg for a fair bit of 2017. I agree also with your view on Thorns decision. He made a tough decision and he stuck by it. Both strategy and culture are important but, as you mentioned, Qld when bringing him in as coach were trying to bring in the attitudes and cultures of the teams that he had played with – Broncos, Crusaders, All Blacks, Leinster particularly. With Jim McKay now with him and the group of young talented backline players he has there he has the opportunity to do something very special at the Reds. Quade will bring a lot to Melbourne but even last year in club rugby he has a couple of periods when he was injured. Hopefully he will draw some crowds and attract some tv ratings and provide very good cover until Toomua arrives. It was interesting that they only signed him for one year but that is probably related to his Wallabies contract as it would run out in 2019.

  • Val

    I think people have mixed up two issues – Thorn’s absolute right to choose the team that he wants and Quade. The first has been settled for a year now and Thorn will be judged by the results as any coach should be.

    Let me just say that I think Quade in 2017 played injured and now he can start with the Rebels fit. In terms of what he did in choosing to play club rugby if he had gone to a Super side without any preseason work it would have been a recipe for disaster.

    The move to the Rebels is now his opportunity to show he still is a quality player and the stakes are high for both the Rebels and Quade. If he can’t succeed then his days as a highly paid rugby player will be over.

    I hope for all connected with Australian rugby he has a great season.

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Correct. ….and he was very open about those injuries. But when he got on top of them his form was very good. That was the last 3rd of the season. It forced Cheikas hand to pick him. His attack and defensive stats for the season bettered Bernard Foleys, considering as we just mentioned over half of the season he carried injuries.

  • Adrian

    Gutsy article, I’ll say that!

  • I get Hunt and Slipper; it was drugs. I think Thorne should have set the rules on culture for Quade with zero tolerance, not frozen him out.
    I am not a QC fan , but it is clear he was a big part of NRC – I don’t thibk NRC should be a development comp, and Quade proved that with his play.
    Will he run on for the Rebels? Not much, but I’ve been surprised at how thoughtful he was this year. He may develop as a skills coach at Melbourne.

    • disqus_NMX

      Agreed on the Hunt/Slipper thing, there is actually a reason given for their exile. But with QC it stinks of a personal beef. Not a good look.

      As for “Will he run on for the Rebels? Not much” – dude, now it’s you on drugs. QC will not only run on, he will run the backline. There is no way in hell the Rebels would have signed him to sit on the bench, or make up the numbers in the squad. You’re either all in with QC, a-la Reds 2011, or nothing at all.

      • Yep fair enough – i’ll take the drugs! I was thinking of having Toomua in the squad as run-on, but realize now he’ll be away most of the season.

      • I guess I’m starting to think of Quade like Campese in his utility back-three/fly-half phase.

        • disqus_NMX

          I’d be surprised if it isn’t Genia-QC-Toomua at 9-10-12

        • Bernie Chan

          Will there be a better scrumbase spine in Oz (Naisarani at #8, Luke Jones at flanker…). The wingers will love the opportunity to run off QCs passes…and the Rebs already have fine wingers.

        • disqus_NMX

          Yep, my feeling is half of Oz rugby fans are drooling at this line up, and the other half agree with this article that BT50 was right.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Break that down even more and I’ll bet you’ll find 1/4 are kiwis and another 1/4 don’t understand the complexities of contracts and filling team lists BEFORE season starts and what Thorns timing on Quades dumping actually meant. Both the above 1/4s make up the 1/2 that agree with Thorn …….

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Huh? Your kidding bro. Quade will only step aside if he gets injury niggles an such. Plenty more years left in those legs. And a bonus.. …his clever tackling technique reduces his risk of concussion dramas. .. ..(unlike some 10s who think they’re loose forwards)

      • Alister Smith

        Clever tacking technique….

  • Tom Galbraith

    Good choice going with Hamish Stewart, BT is looking to the future not the past. Brad’s got my vote of confidence (and I’m a Waratah til I die).

  • Metootootoo

    Ben – I’m a Rebels member (just renewed for 2019) and I am very happy to see Quade coming down here. I respect your opinions as stated but don’t agree with the ones about Quade’s culture or attitude. I first met him in 2008 when the coach of my son’s school team invited hime down to Melbourne for the post season awards night. They had met at some rugby thing and got on well and some rich parent stumped for the cost. He was a young man (from memory the previous spring he had come on and saved our bacon against Italy) not much older that the Y12’s he was giving awards to but he was terrific, and we all thought he was a gentleman. Sure, he went on and had a few mis-steps but far fewer and none as egregious as his fellow “Amigos” and, compared to what KB got up to soon, after he was a positive saint. Since the 2011 World Cup when he was injured in the 3rd place game he has clearly been struggling with injuries and I suspect a few demons (even when the Reds won SS). I have watched most of his games in the NRC this year and he looks fit and more importantly keen. He took that game against the Rising by the scruff of the neck in the second half and took it away from us (the bastard!).

    On yesterday’s tweet. I think he was perfectly entitled. Two things. Quade is very good but he is not a super hero. The Reds performance in 2017 was not down to hime but many years of amateur hour administration and coaching that left all of the team older than 18/19 completely demoralised. That’s why Thorn got the job. My second point is – where does Thorn get off deciding that Quade is surplus to requirements, effectively denying Australian rugby of his services for year when Rugby Australia is picking half of his wages. I’ll bet you any future such arrangements will ensure that that can’t happen again – no matter how high a horse an incoming coach has. It was not Thorn’s right to discard him, it was his job to make it work for the Reds. The Reds’ fans shafted as were the rest of the Australian rugby community. I reckon that quite a few RA managers and board members have “liked” that tweet – maybe with two fingers.

    I attended a low keyRebels end-of season breakfast this morning and Wessels spoke about how impressed he has been with Quade. He is confident that Quade is fully aligned with Wessels’ vision for the Rebels game next year, that Quade has used his year out to reflect on an a lot of things – not just rugby – and that he will fill one of the big gaps that the Rebels identified in their season review. Can’t wait

    (my only quibble with this is that it keeps Jack Maddocks out if the 10 jersey where he belongs and Sefa Naivalu on the bench – where he does not).

    • Tom Galbraith

      QC’s “year out” might be the making of him.

    • disqus_NMX

      Great comment MeToo^3. Good to see all these comments from people who have actually met him and spent time with him and seen him give so much of his time to the kids especially.

    • whatwouldberniedo

      I think a significant role for QC next year will be the mentoring of Maddocks in the nuances of playing 10 at a high level. An opportunity Hamish Stewart must be filthy about.

  • Tim Entwisle

    Quade is not an international level 10. Certainly not against NZ. His defence is so poor that he creates more opportunities for the opposition than he does in attack and playing the hard man makes him laughable.

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Wonder why he has from memory the 3rd highest winning % for 10s in Wallaby history. Think it’s only Lygnagh and Larkham ahead. And there aren’t many who have wins against the ABs either.. …. he does.

  • disqus_NMX

    Brad Thorn can go fuck himself.

  • skip

    I wrote an article on Quade’s contract negotiations after RWC 2011 & broadly I was quite critical of the way his team conducted themselves. This attitude has been his issue since the title year – to me seemed to see himself as Dan Carter’s peer (and ought to be paid accordingly) and he never got anywhere close to that level and he had some genuine flaws in his game (tackling particularly).

    I was deeply ambivalent when Thorne dropped him and I feel it was probably for the best, although I think given Cooper’s time with the club and abilities he probably deserved to be told he was at best riding the pine until everything (the passive aggressive social media, the tackling, the game management, the attitude, etc) shaped up. But ultimately, as the article indicates, Thorne probably looked at the reasons for the team’s success and felt Quade was probably not a significant enough of a factor to be worth the effort.

    Cooper is a coachable player. It’s an obscure game now but the away win to the Stormers in 2011 (i think) when the Reds booted the stitches out of the ball for field position all game showed that. However, I can see why Thorne just decided it wasn’t worth the effort and he shouldn’t have to deal with a guy who can, let’s be honest, be a diva.

    Thorne has had huge success his career and I wish him well in bringing the right culture to an under performing side. He’ll live and die by decisions like this. Whether he’s right or wrong, we’ll never properly know as we won’t be able to tell for certain. To a large part, Quade can blame himself. If he learned to tackle, shut his mouth a bit and develop his game management then none of this would’ve happened. Still, on the plus side for Australian rugby, he’ll have the motivation to show that’s all wrong and I hope he does it for more than just his away game to Brisbane next year.

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Should have saved your breath and just said Thorn doesn’t have the ability to coach diff players.

      • skip

        I’d have said it if I meant that. I said he didn’t want to make the effort with a Quade and reduce his capacity to coach others. A player of Quade’s seniority shouldn’t need it.

        But I don’t think he should have sacked him. He should have said what he’s needed and that with his experience & salary it shouldn’t require special efforts from the coach. It’s been unedifying all round and more than anything I’m kinda sad it turned out this way.

        A losing season in 2019 and Thorn can go as he won’t have any excuses. In fact if he loses 3 of first 5 he can go.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Agreed….

  • iTm

    Dave Wessels has never tolerated fools either, but Dave has a history of taking misfits and rejects, pulling them into line, and getting them to reach their potential, tuning them into good citizens in the process. He might be the one that can help Quade make the leap to being a team player. Jack Mac has headed west to the Force, not sure what Jack Deb is up to, with with Matt Tamooa back and a “rising” star from NRC in the wings that 10 spot will still need to be earned if he wants to play on a field that doesn’t double as a dog park in suburban Melbourne. The lions share of his contract is with the ARU and it reeks of being nothing more than a face saving exercise. Time will tell and I hope he can turn the corner, clean up his defense, deflate his ego an play some great rugby.

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Pretty sure JDebeicini is over in NZ. But if you think Weasels is good with misfits.. ..what’s Thorn good at? Pushing guys into a life of drugs maybe?. .. ..there’s been a big step up in drug culture since he’s taken over at the Reds. Doesn’t really get mentioned much tho. There his players. ……he should take responsibility maybe. .. ..

      • iTm

        The drug scene pre-dates Thorn, Hunt is no angel when it comes to booger sugar. I seriously doubt that Thorne is hosting coke parties to “get the kids hooked” But I will concede, this is something a coach should stamp out, and to be fair, I think he has been dealt with a difficult situation appropriately. If you want to Pile on, Higgers and Smith also had run-ins with the law. I would also like to ask – What is wrong with recreational drugs? The door is already wide open with alcohol and tobacco, both have a much wider negative impact on the community, I have never seen someone smoke a joint in a cow onesie and pee over a bar, but that is a whole other social and moral conversation.
        There is an interesting interview with Ads Coleman, he speaks about being dropped by the Tahs development program, Slow, Fat and Lazy, and by all reports, a bit of an arsehole when on the grog, which was often. Ads speaks of Dave Dubbya’s holistic approach, encouraging him to better himself on and off the field, be a role model and to “play for your mates” – What can I do to help them? (The opposite of the Wallabies team culture). He admits to there still a bit of tension on the training paddock between him and the coach, but that’s OK, you don’t really want an enforcer to shy from confrontation. It isn’t an isolated story either. A number emergency players like Koteka, Hardwick, Newsome and Verity-Amm were dragged out of club rugby and, by the end of season, battle hardened into valuable players, Rangi and Ruru credit their rise to him also. With loyalty earned, it is no wonder so many followed him to Melbournia.
        This is the sort of culture I believe is essential to team rugby, I respect Both Dave W. and Brad Thorn of turning that oil tanker around. If only this could make it to the Tahs players and their clueless clown prince, lord of the flies, Michael Cheika.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yeah I’m well aware of when the drug issues happened. .. and yes two of them happened under Thorns charge. Add in the other stuff like Smith and you’ve got a rap sheet not seen in one season at the REDS for as long as I can remember. The Brad Thorn hardline legacy of “culture”
          Like the massive issue you point out about Sir Cheika…. It just stinks of not owning responsibility when things aren’t working. The wallabies are ALLREADY at an all time low….. the Reds, well they’re still back at the bottom.. . as usual…. .and despite Thorn rule.
          As for your question on Drugs. .. . the easy answer is that it’s illegal and at worst brings the sport and the team into reproach. Moderation of the “legal” drugs is what the players as smart humans need to moderate.
          Bit of a mess huh!

        • iTm

          Roughing up a police officer is Illegal too but we don’t see 12 month suspensions for that, an offence I see as far more serious than happy powder. “Smart Humans” and “contact sport” aren’t phases that tend to go together, especially for jersey numbers below 9.
          There are some great articles on the need for mentoring of young players, fresh out of school, fat stacks of cash in their back burners and lacking the maturity to use it responsibly, including planning a future that has them owning a pub, not tending a bar at one for minimum wage. Fast cars and faster women can bring down the finest careers.
          That Aside, I have been impressed with the Reds this year. The loss of MacIntyre and Magnay was a blow, but the new batch that includes second generation wallabies is starting to look like the business. This year was always going to be a rebuilding exercise. I give Thorn the benefit of the doubt and would like to see how it turns out.

  • Gipetto

    You attribute great wisdom to Coach Goon – I don’t believe it.

  • RobC

    Ben. Thanks for the long article.

    But I stopped when you write that the Reds were improving, and highlighted that the Lance Stewart combo showed glimpses

    My team this year is one of the worst I’ve seen in my life. I am expecting massive improvements next year or everyone in the Reds needs to be cleaned out AGAIN

    This is ridiculous. I don’t want us to be just like the Blues from Auckland who continues to retain unproven coaches

    So until then I reserve my comments. But I wouldn’t be so bold as to say BT will do a great job next year cos I’ve seen NOTHING so far that gives me confidence this will happen

    QC is gone from the Reds. Whatever. Let’s see next year who does what.

    • GO THE Q REDS

      Fair comment. I think we want it too work Sooo bad sometimes well say anything to convince ourselves!

Melbourne Rebels
@Ben_Marczyk

Passionate about rugby from the grass roots up. Usually found at Brisbane club rugby games, or being involved in the junior and schools system. Love a chat, happy to admit when I'm wrong. I will watch any game of rugby regardless of who is playing, from juniors through to tests

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