It's official! Welcome to Melbourne @QuadeCooper
— Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) October 23, 2018
It was widely anticipated that Cooper would join the Melbourne Rebels, who announced his signature today on a one-year deal for 2019. He will join the side in November for the start of their pre-season training. The move south puts Cooper back in Wallabies contention for the looming World Cup year, back playing against his competition for a squad spot in Super Rugby.
The Rebels backline now compromises a stable of Australia’s premier players with Cooper’s old teammate Will Genia, Matt Toomua, Reece Hodge, Dane Haylett-Petty, Marika Koroibete and rising star Jack Maddocks.
“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.”
Cooper was contracted to the Reds for the 2019 Super Rugby season on the final year of his original 3-year homecoming deal, but a release agreement appears to have been negotiated. It is believed the Reds will still cover some of the bill for Cooper’s salary.
The discarded playmaker took to social media last night to throw some subtle shade on coach Brad Thorn, posting an image of himself fending Thorn in the throat when the two squared off during the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-final.
The post alluded to an impending announcement with the caption: “Sometimes you are forced out of the place you love but thank god there’s more than one place that loves me.”
Cooper shared a new post after the announcement in celebration of the news, again offering some cryptic messages by saying he will now be playing, learning and “ENJOYING” his rugby in all caps.
Rebels coach Dave Wessels had been pushing for Cooper’s signature for some time now and has now found a suitable replacement for flyhalf Jack Debreczini.
“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. He’s been pretty selfless in his commitment to club rugby in Brisbane and has shown patience and maturity,” he said.
“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.”
In other news:
Watch the Heineken Champions Cup Final live on RugbyPass throughout Asia and Australia.