Quade’s flickering flame now burns bright Red
Star recruit Quade Cooper admits he was "fried" after his first nine games with the Melbourne Rebels this season having spent 2018 in Super Rugby purgatory.
But the 31-year-old used the bye two weeks ago to recharge his batteries and with the opportunity to knock over the Queensland Reds for a second time on Friday night he's rediscovered his spark in time to deliver against the team which spurned him.
Cooper has played more minutes (799) than any of his teammates through the Rebels 10 games this year and conceded it took a toll after he was banished to club rugby by Reds coach Brad Thorn last year.
"I was feeling it. An easy way to put it, my body was pretty wrecked and mentally I was pretty fried off the back of a club footy season last year," Cooper said on Tuesday.
"The physicality and the intensity each week was a big step up, so that bye was great to have for all us. But for myself, I feel refreshed and so much better again this week.
"We understand there a few personal things playing against a team like the Reds, a few of us who are from there, who have been though a fair bit with that side, so it does pose a different challenge emotionally.
"But having said that, it's another footy game which we want to win."
Cooper got some revenge on Thorn in week three when he helped the Rebels to a 32-13 win over the Reds in Brisbane.
He said it was an "intense and emotional" experience going back to Queensland.
But with that done Cooper said the mindset this week was less personal and more about securing a crucial win.
Cooper was last off the training track on Tuesday, the first of three back-to-back sessions as the Rebels look to arrest a three-match losing streak and reassert their authority in the Australian conference.
The Rebels and Reds are equal on 24 points and the victor will get a significant jump in the push to make the finals.
"The "in the trenches" mentality is something we have been trying to bring all year," he said.
"The way this competition is set up, having a few more local derbies, they are the ones that are double points, you can leapfrog people in the competition.
"This is one we really have to bunker down for and get those points."