Queensland Rugby have made the first steps toward re-building after a tumultuous Super Rugby season, signing former Reds fly-half to a three-year deal.
Cooper returns to Ballymore following a year playing with European giants Toulon, after a troublesome relationship with former Reds coach Richard Graham saw him make the move to Europe in 2015.
Returning in 2016 under newly-appointed coach Nick Stiles, Cooper has instilled fresh belief amongst Reds supporters.
“I’m happy to be home and I think home is the most important word there. For me, there’s no place like Ballymore, I’ve spent the best part of my life here,” Cooper said.
“First and foremost coming home and being with my family is most important and I know that how I operate best is being close to them.
“While I was over there, I realised that I wanted to be back in Australia and that I had a lot to give and a lot that I wanted to achieve.”
Cooper has previously represented Queensland 107 times between 2006 and 2015 and remains the club’s all-time leading point’s scorer.
Following three years of poor results where the Reds have become irrelevant around the pointy end of the season, Queensland Rugby experienced one its worst seasons on record in 2016. The Reds took just three wins from 15 games, the sixth consecutive season that club’s win-loss ratio has worsened from the previous year.
Cooper returns to Ballymore with the motivation of taking the club back to the heights of the club’s 2011 Super Rugby Championship win. He admits he regularly rose in the early hours of the European morning to watch the Reds games from the other side of the world, and wanted to be a part of re-building the club.
“For me, being over the other side of the world and waking up early in the morning and watching the games were tough because I was still invested in those games,” Cooper said.
— Queensland Reds (@Reds_Rugby) September 1, 2016
“Every time I watched the game I was emotionally invested. Even though I wasn’t playing, I still wanted this club to be successful.
“I looked at my life and where I wanted to go and what was important to me, and what was important bringing this club back to the top.
“I know that there’ll be a bit of expectation, but we’ve got a bunch of exciting guys and a new coach. There’s things happening around Ballymore and I’m excited to a part of it.”
Coach Nick Stiles, who was only appointed to the role a matter of weeks ago, says Cooper’s addition to the squad will provide invaluable experience for one of Super Rugby’s youngest squads.
“Obviously we’re very excited to have Quade back at Ballymore. He has a long history already here but to be able to bring him back into the squad really gives us an exciting senior squad to move forward with,” Stiles said.
“You don’t win championships with having quality halves and by bringing Quade back into this squad you’re bringing in that absolute quality.
“To have Quade around here showing the young guys how to play, how to learn and what you need to do to be the best is not only good for the short-term but the long-term success of Queensland rugby.”
The 28-year-old is expected to feature for the Wallabies in next weekend’s Rugby Championship clash with South Africa at Suncorp Stadium. The Wallabies enter the clash following two back-to-back floggings at the hands of the All Blacks, ensuring the Bledisloe Cup remains across the Tasman for a fourteenth consecutive year.
Cooper secured his 57th Australian cap in last weekend’s clash in Wellington and has pleaded with spectators to not give up on the green and gold.
“It doesn’t get much better than Suncorp Stadium. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the best fans in the world and getting us back to our winning ways in the gold jersey
“We’ve come up against a fantastic All Blacks team two weeks in a row who have been on a roll and are very hard to stop.
“There’s still a long season ahead and I just encourage everyone to stick by the team and look forward to the future.