Super Rugby
Reds name side to claim strong platform
ESPN Staff
April 30, 2014
Quade Cooper "displays an enormous amount of pride in the Reds jersey", Richard Graham says © Getty Images

Quade Cooper will earn his 100th cap for Queensland Reds after being named to face the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.

Cooper made his debut for the Reds in 2007, as an 18-year-old, and he is now the teams' leading points scorer in Super Rugby after breaking Elton Flatley's mark earlier this year.

"I'm very proud," Cooper said on Wednesday. "To play one game for Queensland is a great honour, so to get the opportunity to stay in the game long enough to play 100 games, I'm very fortunate. First and foremost for me is focusing on getting a win for the team. I'd much rather the team success come before my own accolades."

Reds head coach Richard Graham, meanwhile, has made four changes to his starting line-up to play the Blues, with Greg Holmes and Liam Gill returning to the forward pack, at tight-head prop and openside flanker respectively, and Rod Davies and Anthony Fainga'a replacing Jamie-Jerry Taulagi and Ben Lucas in the backs. Davies is on the left wing and Fainga'a is at inside centre, with Mike Harris moved to fullback to accommodate the latter. James Slipper moves to loose-head to accommodate Holmes, with Ben Daley, Beau Robinson, Taulagi and Lucas dropped to the bench.

"We've made the changes based on performance but also on the team we're playing," Graham said. "Their scrum is very experienced with an All Blacks front-row. We have made the appropriate changes we feel necessary to give us a strong platform in the early stages.

"Beau [Robinson] has performed very well for us as our starting openside, however with Liam's form prior to injury and as a genuine lineout option, I thought it was important to bring him straight into the starting side.

"With Anthony Fainga'a back in the midfield, his defence and work ethic is well regarded and he'll do a very good job for us there. Mike Harris at fullback provides us with a big body in the back three and also an alternative link to Quade. For this game, Rod's inclusion in the back three demonstrates a need for experience and he brings genuine speed."

Graham said the team needed little motivation to mark Cooper's 100th cap with an important victory that would keep alive the finals hopes.

"It's a special achievement for Quade," Graham said. "He displays an enormous amount of pride in the Reds jersey and has thrilled Queensland fans for a number of years now."

"We all understand the importance of this game in the context of our season."

Reds: Mike Harris; Chris Feauai-Sautia, Ben Tapuai, Anthony Fainga'a, Rod Davies; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Eddie Quirk; James Horwill (captain), Rob Simmons; Greg Holmes, Saia Fainga'a, James Slipper. Replacements: James Hanson, Ben Daley, Jono Owen, Ed O'Donoghue, Beau Robinson, Nick Frisby, Ben Lucas, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.

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