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Reds coach 'couldn't give a rats' about Cooper-Genia homecoming

Queensland assistant Peter Ryan “couldn’t give a rats” how Quade Cooper and Will Genia fare in their hyped Suncorp Stadium return with the Rebels on Saturday.

The Melbourne halves starred in the Reds’ 2011 premiership season and have recombined to great effect after Cooper was frozen out of coach Brad Thorn’s Ballymore plans last year.

While Ryan understood the theatre behind the pair’s return, but assured it wouldn’t be on his mind this weekend.

“It’s their homecoming, I suppose you could call it that,” Ryan said.

“A lot of people want to talk about Quade and Will … I’m not one of them.

“I don’t want to talk about Quade and Will, I couldn’t give a rats and don’t care whether they come up here and play like champions or not.”

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We've been waiting for this Super Rugby match-up all season. Will @quadecooper lead the @melbournerebels to a W on his homecoming? #REDvREB #rebelsrugby #melbournerebels #qldrugby #redsrugby #superrugby #rugby #aussierugby #wallabies

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The defensive coach was nevertheless aware the Reds would need to put the squeeze on the playmaking duo to repeat last weekend’s bonus-point defeat of the Brumbies.

Cooper leads the competition with five try assists this season, while Genia – rested from last weekend’s loss in South Africa to the Sharks – has been commanding at the base of the scrum for the 3-2 side.

“They’re obviously very good players, so we have to look at their individual games, but there’s no extra focus,” Ryan said.

The Reds may have also settled on their best backline, with scrumhalf Tate McDermott retaining his starting spot alongside No.10 Bryce Hegarty and fullback Hamish Stewart.

Hegarty’s kicking game was on point last weekend, while McDermott darted 45m for a second-half try and Stewart was unflappable at the back. It’s just the second time in six starts this season the Reds have fielded an unchanged backline.

The Rebels will be seeing double when identical Smith twins JP and Ruan start together in the front row for Queensland on Saturday.

JP has earned a promotion for the Super Rugby clash after missing last weekend’s defeat of the Brumbies, with Taniela Tupou to be used off the bench and rookie Feao Fotuaika (broken thumb) facing a stint on the sidelines.

The clash will mark the first Queensland visit for Rebels halves Will Genia and Quade Cooper since they played for the Reds.

But with a settled backline and a chance for three-straight Super Rugby wins, the Reds have made it all about themselves this week.

“The Rebels will be a tough assignment as they have plenty of threats, but our main focus has been on us and growing our game,” coach Brad Thorn said.

“It’s disappointing losing Feao. He’s a big loss for us … the Smith boys get the opportunity to start this week after their good performance in Tokyo (against the Sunwolves two weeks ago), with Taniela moving to the bench.

“Our bench have been a real strength for us when they’ve come and have made an impact for us.”

Queensland: JP Smith, Alex Mafi, Ruan Smith, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Scott-Young, Liam Wright, Scott Higginbotham,  Tate McDermott, Bryce Hegarty, Sefa Naivalu, Samu Kerevi (c), Chris Feauai-Sautia, Filipo Daugunu, Hamish Stewart. Reserves: Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Harry Hoopert, Taniela Tupou, Harry Hockings, Fraser McReight, Moses Sorovi, Duncan Paia’aua, Isaac Lucas.

Quade Cooper returns to Club Rugby:

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Reds coach 'couldn't give a rats' about Cooper-Genia homecoming