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'He's the ultimate professional'

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'He's the ultimate professional' - New Rebels captain heaps praise on Quade Cooper

Melbourne Rebels captain Dane Haylett-Petty says he’s been impressed by new recruit Quade Cooper since his arrival at the club.

Unwanted by Queensland, Cooper joined the Rebels for 2019 after playing club rugby in 2018 because Reds coach Brad Thorn said he didn’t fit the team’s culture.

But Haylett-Petty, who has replaced Adam Coleman as Rebels captain, says Cooper is having a great impact on and off the field.

“I think the big thing for me is whether he’s on the field or off he’s such a good influence on the group, especially the younger guys,” Haylett-Petty told AAP.

“He’s the ultimate professional and sets a really good example for the boys and his rugby IQ is amazing – like no-one I’ve ever played with or met – so just that knowledge he can impart to the group is amazing.”

Cooper will re-ignite his halves partnership with Will Genia when the Rebels open their season against the Brumbies in Canberra next Friday.

Cooper and Genia played an integral role in the Reds’ run to the 2011 Super Rugby title when the pair played in Queensland.

“I’m probably expecting a bit of Quade magic,” Haylett-Petty said.

“I’m really excited about seeing Will and Quade, their combination back together. We know how dangerous they were for the Reds.”

Haylett-Petty made 11 appearances for the Rebels last season after battling concussion but said he would be ready for round one.

“Obviously it was a disappointing Super Rugby season last year but I managed to get fit and play all of the Wallabies games so I had a good six or seven months and I’m really looking forward to this season,” he added.

He said there was high expectation on the team to make the finals for the first time in club history after coming painstakingly close in 2018.

“We started quite well, surprisingly considering how little time we had to come together last year but we were very disappointed not to play in finals,” Haylett-Petty said.

“I think all the changes that we made off the field, this is the best placed the club’s ever been going into a season which is really exciting.”

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'He's the ultimate professional' - New Rebels captain heaps praise on Quade Cooper