McKenzie relishing Cooper conundrum
January 9, 2012
Quade Cooper will sit out the majority of the 2012 Super Rugby season © Getty Images
The mercurial half-back is in the midst of his rehabilitation following the knee reconstruction he underwent after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament during Australia's Bronze Medal clash with Wales during the 2011 World Cup. Cooper is likely to miss the majority of the Super Rugby season but McKenzie is adamant they have enough strength in depth to cover his absence.
With Mike Harris, Ben Lucas, Dallan Murphy and Jono Lance all available, McKenzie claims he is looking forward to seeing a different half-back combination turning out for the Super Rugby champions.
"We're quite excited by the prospect of solving that solution," McKenzie said. "Everyone worries about it but we're quite excited by it. Each year you're confronted with different situations so the job as a coach is to come up with different solutions.
"It's just like a game of chess really, you've just got to make sure you've got the solutions.
"No one has an automatic replacement for Quade. It's not so much the skill, it's the thinking and the communication side of it so we've been thinking long and hard about it."
And McKenzie has received a boost after back-row Jake Schatz committed his future to the franchise. The 21-year-old will remain at the Reds until 2014 and the Reds boss has praised the youngster's attitude after a series of impressive performances during pre-season. McKenzie said: "I've been extremely pleased with the standard of pre-season training from the entire squad so far but no one has made more of an impact than Jake and we're confident his hard work will pay dividends throughout the course of the year.
"He has shown maturity beyond his years since making his debut in 2010 and has not only impressed us with his numerous physical attributes, but also with his calm approach to the game and the poise he continues to show in completing every task we've given him.
"There is no doubting his best position is at number eight but he has handled the challenges of playing on both sides of the scrum admirably in the past and his versatility will continue to be a major asset for the team as we strive to win another title."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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