Beale and Cooper the highlights of round 16 Super Rugby
IN AN otherwise forgettable weekend of professional rugby, two positives emerged brightening the week and month ahead.
For Aussie rugby, Kurtley Beale's positive return via Sydney club rugby, and Quade Cooper's second half in the Reds v Rebels Super Rugby game on Saturday night augur well.
From all reports, Kurtley played well in Randwick's loss to Sydney Uni on Saturday afternoon.
And, transmitting loud 'n' clear north along the rugby grapevine, Beale has one-hell-of-a-booster in Wallaby coach, Robbie Deans.
Timely return to the field and form for Beale, indeed.
With six players to be added to the preliminary Wallaby squad ahead of the first test v the British and Irish Lions, and James O'Connor's less than stellar outing on Saturday night, Beale's return to the field with form will be welcoming news for the Wallabies.
Now to Quade.
Watching him go about his early game on Saturday night was distressing, even comical in an ironic kind of way.
Like watching someone at a family get-together attempting to exit a billabong and encountering a slippery, sloping embankment on their way to secure a snag from the barbie.
Work with the analogy, people: The snag from the barbie is his goal, a Wallaby recall; the slippery, sloping embankment represented Quade's less than stellar play; and the family get-together was the local derby.
The Wallaby selectors are working the BBQ, and for mine, have been on the turps!
It works for me, anyway. But back to the footy.
Cooper was trying, possibly placing too much pressure on himself, increasing the dysfunctional performance.
That's what added to the drama.
There was aspiration and intent as he slipped and slid, with charged down kicks and questionable option taking.
It was compelling. You knew Cooper wasn't going to give up.
It was either going to be more whacky adventures, or he'd emerge from the billabong, front-n-centre at the cooker, disposable cardboard plate in hand, and a defiant, confident and hopeful expression on his dial.
I couldn't look away. The man deserves his sizzling snag.
Saturday night's story doesn't end with him shivering in the billabong.
No, while he might struggle to get the sausage, he made it out of the billabong.
His second half was a marked improvement, along with that of his partner, Will Genia and fellow Reds' players.
Cooper's play in the second half guided his team to a bonus point win, scoring a try in the process, and was a seminal moment for him.
For Cooper and Beale to dig themselves out of their respective lows, speaks highly of their character and worth to the Wallabies.
One is struggling through off-field issues, the other (perceived) on-field deficiencies.
Both are fighting the good fight, and making progress. And that's good for Aussie rugby.