Super Rugby
Quade Cooper hails attacking Waratahs
February 19, 2013
Quade Cooper of the Reds runs the ball, Brumbies v Reds, Super Rugby, Canberra Stadium, Australia, February 16, 2013
Quade Cooper hopes for a free-flowing bonanza but expects plenty of physical action © Getty Images

Quade Cooper has goaded New South Wales Waratahs as "boring" in the past, but now he is a wary admirer of a team he sees as a multi-dimensional Super Rugby threat.

Bracing for a classic interstate battle on Saturday night, Queensland Reds playmaker rate the Waratahs a far more dangerous proposition due to their attacking intentions under new coach Michael Cheika.

The Waratahs open their 2013 Super Rugby campaign against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium, but already they have impressed with their more expansive style in three pre-season matches.

Cooper, an outspoken critic of the Waratahs' dour play and conservative tactics last year, felt their desire to complement their Test-quality forward pack with positive backline play would make them harder and trickier to combat.

"In their past they've been a very conservative side and now they're looking to open up a little bit more and show a more flamboyant style, and it's suiting the players that they have recruited," Cooper said.

"Their pack is a great pack and now having good backs out wide bringing that balance is working for them. If a team only has a good forward pack, it is very limited as to what it can do. Rather than concentrate on their forward pack, [opponents] have to start looking at their backs now as well."

Former Brumbies flanker Michael Hooper has added an edge to the powerful Waratahs pack, and the recruitment of imposing code-hopper Israel Folau has bolstered an outside back contingent already boasting Drew Mitchell, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Tom Kingston.

Cooper tipped the visitors would have "threats right across the board" on Saturday night. The 38-Test fly-half's admiration for the Waratahs' adventure is in contrast to his comments four years ago, when he belittled the former high-flyers as "boring".

"It's great for rugby," Cooper said on Tuesday.

"The more that teams play a positive mindset in games, it's going to be a whole lot better for the spectators and for the entertainment brand of rugby."

Pressure will be on the NSW five-eighth, either Bernard Foley or rookie Ben Volavola, to be the linchpin, but Cooper said the Reds would give either their due respect.

Queensland have built a reputation as entertainers in the past four seasons, but Cooper was unable to unleash the Reds' attack in their opening 24-6 loss in Canberra due to the Brumbies' breakdown pressure and defence.

"Quadey can only do his magic when our forwards are going forward, and things will connect from then on," winger Digby Ioane said.

Cooper expected plenty of feeling in the traditional grudge match.

"Anytime that Queensland and NSW verse each other it's always a bloodbath," he said.

"There's always a fierce rivalry there and from the first kickoff there's ... a little bit of argy-bargy. You have to get past that and remember there's a game to win."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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