Cooper cleared for playing return
February 3, 2010
Quade Cooper is set for a return to action © Getty Images
Troubled Wallaby Quade Cooper has been cleared to resume playing with the Reds ahead of the Super 14.
Cooper's future in the sport was in doubt following his arrest for burglary on the Gold Coast in December but his efforts in counselling and personal development programmes have been rewarded with the green light to resume playing.
A three-hour conference between officials from the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) resulted in a unanimous vote for Cooper to be cleared to play.
The Reds face the Force in a pre-season game in Perth on Friday, where Cooper will make his bow for the season at fly-half. His arrest followed a breakthrough tour to the northern hemisphere in green and gold and he must continue to attend counselling as he prepares for a July court date.
"Just being part of the team and being out there knowing that I'm going to play has been very positive," he said. "It's back in my hands to keep going along this path and keep getting things right. It's not a matter of dropping off now that I'm allowed to play footy.
"Even if I wasn't allowed I would be carrying on with the things that I'm supposed to do and have been doing away from footy. This is the point where I need to keep following on and keep working at the things I've been working hard at."
ARU high performance manager David Nucifora called on Cooper to continue his work off the field after earning the right to be selected.
"Quade has done everything we required of him since he agreed to begin the program on December 18 and has earned the privilege to again be considered for selection," he said. "However, Quade is also aware that we will continue to closely monitor his performance in the program."
Meanwhile, Reds skipper James Horwill has been switched from the second-row to blindside flanker for their final trial game.
"I've been really impressed with his athleticism and power, and by putting him at six gives us a chance to get him more involved," head coach Ewen McKenzie said. "If he doesn't have such a large workload at scrum-time it gives him more opportunity to carry the ball and do other things.
"Obviously he is not attuned to that position but that doesn't mean he can't learn. We've seen plenty of examples of players at test level and below taking on new positions in a short space of time, so this is just an experiment."
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