Israel Folau and Quade Cooper after a Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and Reds. Picture: Mark Evans
Israel Folau and Quade Cooper after a Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and Reds. Picture: Mark Evans

How Quade is blocking Thorn’s Folau dream

Israel Folau is all smiles at Waratahs training. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Israel Folau is all smiles at Waratahs training. Picture: Phil Hillyard

BRAD Thorn has lauded Israel Folau as a player any coach would want in the first concrete pointer the off-contract star is on the Reds' radar for next season.

The Reds coach would not confirm whether he'd spoken to the NSW Waratahs' 47-try weapon but a big tick from the hard-marking Thorn is the essential first step.

"I don't imagine there's a coach who wouldn't be interested in Izzy," Thorn said.

"He's an outstanding human, a three-time John Eales medallist, a special player for any team."

 

Folau's 62-Test record means he has reached the 60-Test threshold to play anywhere in the world and still be selected for the Wallabies.

A mega $1 million-plus payday for a shortened 16 or 17-game stint with an English club, a la Kurtley Beale, is definitely an option for Folau from December to May.

That would still allow a full Wallaby preparation for next year's World Cup but a Queensland base might have greater appeal for wife Maria, the Kiwi netballer, who is sharing the decision.

If the Reds are to find the cash for a serious play for fullback Folau, the numbers only work if Quade Cooper finds a new home and his $650,000-a-year deal is cleared from Queensland's books.

Cooper has been unable to budge Thorn from his mindset that the Reds have moved on from his playmaking style.

Quade Cooper playing club rugby for Souths at Yeronga.
Quade Cooper playing club rugby for Souths at Yeronga.

Cooper's 70-Test nous has been inspiring in club rugby for four games with leaders Souths but every week moves him further from international reckoning, not closer.

Wallabies backs coach Steve Larkham agreed.

"I know he enjoys Brisbane but now that Brad has categorically sort of told everyone he is not on the radar there, I think realistically Quade should start looking at some alternatives," Larkham said.

With long-time halves partner Will Genia saying this week that he'd "absolutely love" Cooper to join him at the Melbourne Rebels, Thorn gave him an extra nudge.

"If there was an opportunity for Quade at another Super Rugby club, we wouldn't stand in his way," Thorn said.

You could write a similar script in reference to a new overseas home for rugby's limbo man Karmichael Hunt, who is the fallen fullback with no future at the Reds.

Cooper is steadfastly backing himself to change Thorn's view but still may have to do so from another club despite his stance on Twitter this week.

Brad Thorn has expressed his desire to coach Israel Folau.
Brad Thorn has expressed his desire to coach Israel Folau.

"Work hard for what you want even when there appears no way," Cooper tweeted.

"There is ALWAYS a way ... persist and be patient ... grateful to be representing @SouthsRugby on this journey back to the Reds & Wallabies. I will not give up."

Cooper's contentment with his close family set-up in Brisbane is a stay-put factor but playing Super Rugby anywhere is the one way to be a Wallabies contender again.

Outside Bernard Foley, the Wallabies have few options for back-up No.10s because the Reece Hodge experiment by Michael Cheika in Japan last year has been ignored at the Rebels.

Karmichael Hunt has no future at the Reds. Picture: Brendan Hertel, QRU
Karmichael Hunt has no future at the Reds. Picture: Brendan Hertel, QRU

"I know he's probably enjoying playing club rugby and getting a lot out of it but it's doing nothing for his aspirations to get to the next level," Larkham said of Cooper.

"He is a magnificent player and I certainly want to see him playing at that next level and then having the opportunity to play for Australia again."



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