Quade Cooper is now training with club side Souths.
Quade Cooper is now training with club side Souths. DAN PELED

Former Wallaby has dig at Reds decision

RUGBY UNION: Former Wallabies winger Digby Ioane has warned the Queensland Reds may live to regret demoting former teammate Quade Cooper to Brisbane club rugby.

Cooper was told late last year by new coach Brad Thorn he wasn't in his plans for 2018 and the 29-year-old has not trained with the Reds since, despite having two more years left to run on his contract.

The decision means Cooper is free to take up another contract but he is yet to land a deal with an overseas team and it looks likely he will play out the year for the Souths Rugby Club while still earning a reported $800,000 salary.

Ioane played alongside the former Wallabies five-eighth in the Reds' 2011 championship year and said his talent and temperament would be missed.

Digby Ioane (right) with Panasonic Wild Knights teammates Akihto Yamada (left) and Berrick Barnes.
Digby Ioane (right) with Panasonic Wild Knights teammates Akihto Yamada (left) and Berrick Barnes. DARREN ENGLAND

"You need depth in Australia and Quade is one of the most experienced players,” Ioane said yesterday after arriving in town for the Brisbane Tens with his Japanese side Panasonic Wild Knights.

"It's not like you've got five-eighths falling from a tree.

"I just feel for him, but I guess he's the most expensive club player (in Australia).

"Good on him, I hope he stays at Souths and doesn't go anywhere and just proves himself again.”

Thorn is backing teenage talent Hamish Stewart at five-eighth this season, and also has cover in the form of recruits Jono Lance and Ben Lucas.

Brad Thorn oversees a Queensland Reds training session at Ballymore.
Brad Thorn oversees a Queensland Reds training session at Ballymore. GLENN HUNT

"It's just a change of direction,” Thorn said.

"I thought Quade last year ... the team struggled, his game management, his attack, his defence (struggled).

"Sometimes you've got to make tough decisions.”

Ioane's teammate at Panasonic, former Wallaby Berrick Barnes, said it was a "strange” situation.

Barnes also suggested Cooper would be a success in Japan but would struggle to find a Top League club ahead of the new season starting in August.

"It's just hard now with the timing of it all. Basically all the clubs have signed their players,” Barnes said.


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