Cooper, who was sin-binned for the tackle, was deemed to have made contact with Barnes’ neck and will miss yet another game after being grounded for much of the season already due to a knee injury. Cooper was diplomatic about the outcome and refused to criticise the judiciary despite many people pointing to what appeared to be an equally high if not worse tackle from Sonny Bill Williams on the weekend which went completely unpunished.
Cooper has missed 11 games since the start of 2011 and of those games, the Reds have lost five. Many will believe that without their main man the Reds will struggle to score enough points to overcome the Sharks. Trying to prove those doubters wrong will be utility back Ben Lucas who will don the Red number 10 jersey and who should be high on confidence considering last time he pulled the 10 jumper on he scored a try and led the Reds to a 42-27 victory over the Chiefs.
Stand in captain and Reds halfback Will Genia has the utmost confidence that Lucas will get the job done. Genia said, “Ben has been exceptional the times he has been at 10 for us. He will step in and do the job. It is obviously very disappointing not having Quade play but in terms of the process, you have to trust it and back the decision that was made.”
No doubt that the Reds will miss the mercurial talents of Cooper, particularly his incisive running and adept passing game. However, in their favour will be a 40,000 strong parochial crowd at Suncorp Stadium baying for Shark blood. Suncorp has become somewhat of a fortress for the Reds, with them having won 21 of their past 23 games there.
The Sharks have a few issues of their own with Springboks Francois Steyn and Patrick Lambie both missing. If the Reds manage to overcome the Sharks they will travel to Cooper’s hometown of Waikato to face a rampaging Chiefs outfit.
Adam Schoenmaker is a high school chaplain in the northern suburbs of Brisbane for three days each week and serves two days a week in his local church. Adam loves a good book, a classic album and all Queensland sporting teams.
Adam Schoenmaker archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/adam-schoenmaker.html