Super Rugby
Quade Cooper needs to re-establish respect - Horwill
February 13, 2013
Quade Cooper sits alongside Ewen McKenzie on the day he signed a new contract, Brisbane, Australia, December 7, 2012
Quade Cooper signed a new deal with the Reds earlier this year © Getty Images

Wallabies and Queensland Reds skipper James Horwill has urged team-mate Quade Cooper to let his playing do the talking this season.

The controversial Cooper alienated several Test team-mates with his comments last year, claiming the Wallabies camp had become a 'toxic environment' on social media site Twitter. The outburst earned the 24-year-old a A$60,000 fine from the ARU and threatened to end his 35-Test career before he finally inked a new Wallabies deal after an ugly public spat with the governing body.

"Whether he needs to earn respect from other people (I'm not sure) but you let your actions do the talking and Quade's very big on that," Horwill told Sportal in Melbourne on Wednesday. "He needs to make sure he keeps performing the way he can and we all know he can because he is a world-class player and someone who's got some freakish ability that a lot of people in the world would be pretty envious of.

"Quade for us at the Reds has always been the guy that's always turned up and been very proud and worked hard to play for Queensland, so I can't fault him in that sense."

Horwill says he can't question Cooper's commitment to the Reds' pre-season despite juggling his professional boxing debut last Friday night. "Quade's been excellent, he hasn't missed a session, he's trained extremely hard, he's obviously in very good shape physically," he said. "Any time you have injuries and interruptions to your year it's frustrating and that happened to him obviously last year and he might have struggled with that a bit.

"But he's been fit, he's been training, he's been running, doing everything and you can see that he's really enjoying being out there so I'm expecting Quade to be Quade and do what he does best."

Meanwhile, Horwill admitted he's devastated to be missing Saturday's season opener against the Brumbies with an ankle injury after nine months out of the game with a serious hamstring injury. He is confident he'll be available for the Round 2 grudge match against the Waratahs on Saturday week.

"It's a little bit frustrating obviously with the long lay-off that we've had and everything was sort of tracking the way we had planned it but unfortunately a little hiccup happened," he said. "Unfortunately that's sport so you've just got to get the ankle better and get back as soon as I can."

Horwill said his hamstring is now fully healed and is confident he can get back to his best this season. "It's been really good, we did a lot of stuff to really test it out and check that it can withstand what is needs too," he said. "I'm happy with my fitness, obviously there's no duplicate for match fitness so I might be a bit short of a run.

"Going into the season is obviously not ideal but it's the cards we've been dealt so we've just got to get on with it and do what we can."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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