Cooper ready for Reds return
Quade Cooper is set for a return to training © Getty Images
Troubled Wallaby Quade Cooper will return to training with the Queensland Reds on Thursday as they continue their preparation for the new Super 14 season.
Cooper faces a committal hearing in July after being charged with burglary following an incident on the Gold Coast in December. His playing future remains uncertain as he must undergo a series of counselling sessions before being considered for selection by the Reds or Australia.
Cooper is being treated as a senior player by new Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, although his future may lie in midfield rather than at fly-half given his international form there and the emergence of Ben Lucas.
"He's good to get back into [training]," McKenzie told AAP. "I've met with him a few times and obviously we've dealt with all the issues as much as we can, but we've largely talked about what we are doing here and I've enjoyed the discussions."
McKenzie is hoping that a strong leadership core develops at the franchise despite the relative youth of the squad. Skipper James Horwill, Will Genia, Peter Hynes, Digby Ioane and Cooper are all current Wallabies while experienced front-rowers Greg Holmes and Sean Hardman are back for another year that coal-face along with All Black Daniel Braid.
"We're looking for more leaders in the group, guys who can do the right thing at the right time," he said. "There's no limit on the number of those guys you can have and I don't expect James to have to carry the full burden of that. I expect a few people around will step up and help him.
"It is a leadership group that is an entirely different group from the normal senior guys. It's more strategic as in what we're doing in the business of rugby as opposed to running the team as such. We meet every couple of weeks and I take issues to it that I want to discuss and they take issues to me."
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton