The Wallaby flyhalf was famously deemed surplus to requirements by Thorn at the start of the 2018 Super Rugby season, but Cooper had resisted having a pop at the former All Black secondrow, until breaking his silence this week.
The mercurial 10 posted on instagram with an image of himself handing off Thorn, the message below reading: “Sometimes you are forced out of the place you love but thank god there’s more than one place that loves me.”
He backed that up by sending a new message after the announcement of his signing for the Rebels on Tuesday, again offering some cryptic messages by saying he will now be playing, learning and “ENJOYING” his rugby in all caps.
Now Sonny Bill Williams has apparently picked a side in the beef. Despite having won a World Cup with Brad Thorn in 2015, it’s clear Williams is siding with the Wallaby.
Speaking from Toyko, Williams said in relation to the acrimony between the pair: “I’ll always support my bro. I will always support Quade and that situation is no different.”
“He’s very driven and I think the year off has enhanced that…Hopefully he doesn’t go too well against the Blues but I’m happy that he’ll be suiting back up in Super Rugby. I’m excited to see him back out there.”
Cooper will now look to exact revenge on Thorn’s Red as part of a increasingly dangerous looking backline, which 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.
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.”
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