After months of speculation, former Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper has finally signed on with Melbourne Rebels on a one-year deal.
Cooper will join the Rebels for preseason in mid-November, after he was at last unveiled as their latest star recruit following the additions of Matt Toomua, Luke Jones and Isi Naisarani.
Cooper move south has long been rumoured after he sat out the entirety of this year’s Super Rugby season, coach Brad Thorn declaring preseason he wouldn’t be a part of the Queensland setup in 2018.
Having been cast aside at Ballymore, Cooper instead played club rugby for Brisbane club Souths before turning out for Brisbane City in the National Rugby Championship. Cooper had said little of his Reds absence all year but in a sign his Rebels deal was his imminent, the former Test playmaker fired a final parting shot by posting a picture of himself brushing Thorn aside in a Bledisloe Cup clash.
Cooper will link up with former halves partner Will Genia, giving the Rebels the chance to field a backline that also features Test players Toomua, Jack Maddocks, Marika Koroibete and Reece Hodge.
“I want to do whatever I can on and off the field to help grow the Rugby community in Melbourne. I’m keen to work hard and make the entire Rebels organisation and their fans proud,” Cooper said.
“I was really impressed seeing the improvement that Melbourne have made this year. Their professionalism since the first discussion we had about me being a Rebel has been first-class.”
“I know that Rugby in Melbourne has a strong history and cultural connection. If I can help out the grassroots and be involved in inspiring the next generation, then that is just a bonus for me.
Rebels coach Dave Wessels said Cooper deserved praise for the way he had handled himself in 2018 and was looking forward to the attacking edge he could offer Melbourne.
“I’ve obviously chatted to Quade a lot over the last few months and I’ve been impressed by his love of the game, and his willingness to reflect on his journey,” Wessels said. “He’s been pretty selfless in his commitment to club Rugby in Brisbane and has shown patience and maturity.
“He knows that he has some hard work ahead of him, but he has the potential to be a really important spark for us over the next few months. We’re excited to have him.
“We’ve worked really hard on our succession planning as a coaching group and I’m proud of the program we’re building. We’re very clear on what we needed to add to the squad and we look forward to the new players making an impact on the field and in our community.”
Cooper hasn’t played for the Wallabies since