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Remembering Quade Cooper’s Reds magic ahead of ‘State of Origin’ derby

By Finn Morton
Quade Cooper of the Reds fends off a tackle before scoring a try during the round 10 Super 15 Rugby match between the Reds and the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium on April 23, 2011 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan Wood/Getty Images)

Fly-half Quade Cooper was the face of Super Rugby for quite some time. During a glistening career with the Queensland Reds, Cooper rose to heights that stopped rugby fans in awe on both sides of the Tasman Sea.

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Whether you hate to love Quade Cooper or love to hate him, there’s no questioning the playmakers’ greatness. Cooper was something special during the prime of his career at Ballymore, Brisbane.

Cooper, now 35, played a leading role in the Reds’ journey to their first-ever Super Rugby title in 2011. With halfback Will Genia joining him in the halves, the Queenslanders were nigh on unstoppable at times.

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The Reds only lost three matches in the regular season and went on to beat Dan Carter’s travelling Crusaders in a thrilling decider in front of 50,000+ at Suncorp Stadium.

But there’s one moment, one highlight that sums up the greatness of that 2011 team – okay, maybe two if you remember Digby Ioane’s iconic ‘turtle’ try celebration.

If Quade Cooper wasn’t taking shots at goal with iconic stance, or setting up teammates with sensational offloads, then the first five was bamboozling defenders with his rapid fast feet.

Playing against the NSW Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium, Cooper ran straight past Wallabies Ryan Cross before a clever left-foot step saw the No. 10 cross for a crucial five-pointer.

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But the best was yet to come. Cooper dotted the ball down and then proceeded to celebration with a routine that would score a perfect 10 for a gymnast at the Olympic Games.

“Cooper showing it and going,” commentator Greg Clark said. “Cooper, Cooper dummying. Quade Cooper! Absolutely brilliant.”

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That try-scoring effort will be replayed time and time again for the years to come. If you’re a Queenslander, it’s the perfect way to set the stage for a battle with your fiercest rivals.

13 years on from that Super Rugby thriller, which the Reds won 19-15, the Queenslanders are set to host another epic clash against the NSW Waratahs.

As Reds co-captain Tate McDermott told reporters at the Super Rugby Pacific season launch in Auckland, “It’s our version of State of Origin.”

The oldest rivalry pretty much in Australian sport,” McDermott said. “A lot of people don’t know that but it’s big. There’s a lot in it, there’s a lot on the line.

“To have them in our home at Suncorp Stadium in a week and a half’s time, it’s brilliant.”

The Reds and Waratahs will go head-to-head in the final game of Round One with the match set to get underway at 7.05 pm (local time) on Saturday.

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