Video: Has Quade Lost His Mojo? - Green and Gold Rugby
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Video: Has Quade Lost His Mojo?

Video: Has Quade Lost His Mojo?

Some will say that Quade Cooper lost his mojo at RWC 2011 and hasn’t found it since. My answer to the question is yes and no!

Not so much of this

Not so much of this

I think Cooper has been playing reasonably well in 2013 until he hit a speed bump in last week’s match against the Force, when  the Reds’ attack struggled. Those struggles weren’t all a result of Cooper’s performance but the more his runners failed to get into good positions and dropped the ball, the less confident Cooper looked.

Cooper is the best fly-half in Australia for spotting opportunities and being able to execute the play to take advantage of those opportunities. Or, he was.

In the match against the Rebels two weeks ago his vision was really good but his execution wasn’t good enough to take advantage of most of the opportunities that arose.

His first-half performance against the Force was passable but in the second half as mistakes started to flow it seemed to me that his confidence dropped to the point that he became very conservative with his calls, as you’ll see in the video below.

In the 62nd minute, with the Reds trailing by four points, they had a scrum on the Force 22 in a great position for the backline to attack from, but Cooper instead called for a crash ball run by the blindside winger and then let the forwards take the next phase, in which the ball was lost.

In the 71st minute, with the Reds now needing a converted try to level the score, they had a lineout 15 metres from the Force try line. The forwards tried to drive the ball over the line on the first phase, Ben Tapuai tried to rumble his way through the defensive line on the second phase, and by the time Cooper got the ball on the third phase any space out wide was gone.

In the 73rd minute the Reds had a scrum five metres out from the Force line after James Hanson had been held up over the line. Jake Schatz ran off the back of the scrum and after three phases of forward play the ball was lost.

Whilst using your backline isn’t the only way to score tries I think that a confident Cooper would have demanded the ball early from these set pieces and called one of the Reds’ trademark first-phase plays that used to excite us all so much.

So yes, you could say Cooper has lost his mojo but I’ll say no, as I don’t believe it’s lost, just misplaced along with the Reds’ attacking prowess. The success or failure of the Reds’ season from here on depends on his finding it again, and quickly, as does any chance for Cooper to earn a Wallabies recall.

What do you think?


  • bruwheresmycar

    Good points about the decision making on Saturday, he probably wasn’t feeling ontop of things then. But overall I think Cooper is just playing a bit more composed and making smarter decisions. He looks more like a world class fly half now, even if it isn’t as much of a spectacle as before.

    To beat the Lions we will need someone who plays smart, but also offers an attacking threat. Cooper is putting a decent case forward.

  • Spikhaza

    Brilliant analysis scott. The Reds really haven’t attacked off set piece enough for the past two seasons given the quality (and pace!) they have out wide. They are still stuck on the 2011 model of letting the forwards set things up with 4+ phases, get over the advantage line and then spin it wide.

    For me they have to change this to a more wallabies of the 2000’s model of mixing it up with runners coming off the halfback, off the ruck and off the flyhalf. There is far too many forwards getting caught flat footed behind the advantage line one off from the ruck. This is never going to gain any momentum.

    Having a more creative way of gaining meters will ensure there is space for the speech machines to operate out wide.

    Three things:

    – Quick Ball
    – Moving the point of attack, in particular with regard to the forward runners
    – More direct attack off set piece. Less of punching it up in centrefield with a center running straight into someone else. More loops, dummy runners and lines please.

    • USARugger

      Just watch the Brumbies forwards against the Sharks and the interplay between their #9/Toomua/the Forwards and you’ll see the 2011 QLD pack and exactly what we need to get back to doing. Forwards coming at pace from a bit of depth, getting over the line, ball is recycled immediately and the direction of play is changed nearly every phase even when the ball is being kept within the forwards (scrumhalf -> forward, forward -> forward, Toomua -> forward, pick and drive, etc. You see a different one almost every other phase if not every phase once they get rumbling). Results in a swiss cheese defense that’s exploitable in multiple areas for the backs to break.

      We get absolutely no momentum when our forwards are caught flat-footed and this is where we lose because we can’t seem to reverse this and rebuild our momentum. Momentum is what scores tries outside of the set-piece.

  • Roscoe Tims

    In addition to the above, I think there was probably a couple of other factors too, which may have unsettled things:
    – no Diggers there to run off him,
    – a last minute change in the centres (Harris for Faingaa), and
    – change in halfback at the break (albeit planned: Genia on in first half when he looked better).
    I thought he overplayed his hand and tried too hard. He’s below 2011 Super Rugby form but I don’t think that’s all his fault. There’s been no Genia (until now) and the forward pack is not as dominant.
    It’s like being a contestant on ‘American Idol.’ Keep it relatively simple and don’t try and show off all your moves and how clever you are every time you perform.

    • USARugger

      If Quade knew when to play safe and when to “turn it on” once they team is peaking at their momentum going foward he could easily be a world-beating #10 with his passing game and speed/agility combined with his excellent vision. It’s a fuckin’ shame when all the pieces are in place but not in the right order.

      • Redsfan1

        You’re kidding right? So it’s everyone else’s fault he threw passes into touch, got charged down, & did useless kicks?

  • Dougall

    I’ve noticed Shipperly has been running off Quade a lot more than Digby.

    Would be good to see morahan back in the 15 jersey aswell, he runs off quade so well, especially those no look pop up over the shoulder passes.

    Quade is class, he is just having a rough patch, especially the the loss of fast ball in recent games.

    • USARugger

      I almost feel like Morahan has wronged someone in the Reds camp this year because he’s definitely been neglected this year.

  • mxyzptlk

    Question: Much was made last year about how Cooper always played better for McKenzie than he did for Robbie Deans, and that McKenzie had some kind of Obi-Wan Kenobi connection with his young jedi (and now he even has the beard). With McKenzie on his way out the door, how might that affect Cooper’s play, especially if he’s a confidence player? Are there any suggestions about who could take over, and if so, can they get confident, creative play out of him again?

  • Kgyptian

    The issue is Digbi, Genia and Copper must play together to have the Reds machine rolling if any of the three is not playing or having a day off then they miss fire every other game. They lost 2 out of 5

  • Redsfan1

    Playing ‘reasonably well’ eh? I can’t believe how much slack Cooper gets. 79 minutes of poor play forgiven by 1 flick pass.

    Or a shocking performance justified because he has ‘enormous talent’.

    Many people forget how shocking he was pre-2010. His debut season remains a Benny Hill themed blooper reel on YouTube. He hasn’t played a decent game at Test Level really & only puts in spurts of good play against lower Super teams. He has been exposed as having poor judgement & an obvious inability to handle pressure.

    He is riding his hype for all it’s worth & that is all he has. I just can’t believe words like ‘talent’ are still used On someone who can’t do the basics in rugby

    • Dougs

      I too have had a gutful of Quade, but it should be remembered he did have a good 2011 season and was a key piece of the Reds’ premiership.

      I think Quade has now showed he’s another Carlos Spencer; loads of talent, no brains, certainly not the temperament to be a world class fly half.

      Re Wallabies: Toomua for fly half. Lealiifano backup fly half. O’Connor inside centre. Tapuai back up inside centre. AAC outside centre with the Honey Badger as his backup. Mogg fullback (I know Beale is an ex-runner up player of the year but form is form).

    • david

      Come off it mate I”m sure you rode his train as hard as everyone else back in 2011. Talent gets thrown around with Quade because he has bucketloads…more than the entire NSW Waratahs (Hooper excluded) and he gets lifelines because he has won a super title and he has won a trinations (how many other Oz 10s have done this in the last decade) but more than that HE BRINGS PEOPLE TO THE RUGBY.

      People, especially rugby ppl forget that we are in the entertainment business and the game on Saturday night was awful. Quade aside 5 minutes to set a scrum is disgraceful and the sooner that the IRB realises that ppl go to the rugby to watch the game, not scrum resets the better – this is where the AFL have it over us by stopping the clock at any stoppage.
      Back to Quade he didn’t play well on Saturday night, no excuses. He needs to free up his outside men more by passing earlier, giving them more space and time. Also an ACL is not a 6mth good as gold injury….it took Darren Lockyer 24mths to really rediscover his form.
      Anyway lets hope he can bounce back for the bulls cause we need it.

      • Redsfan1

        So in your thinking 1 good season in 2011 is enough to justify bad form forever? Sorry it’s 2013 not 2011.. He was shocking at RWC in 2011, shocking at Rugby Championship 2012, & now just shocking in everything

Melbourne Rebels

Scott is one of our regular contributors from the old days of G&GR. He has experience coaching Premier Grade with two clubs in Brisbane.

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