Graham happy to have Cooper back on the field

UNDER-pressure Queensland Reds coach Richard Graham can breathe a little easier going into tonight's Super Rugby clash against the Force at nib Stadium, with star playmaker Quade Cooper set to return from yet another injury.

The Wallabies five-eighth (pictured) has recovered from his second shoulder fracture this season, and will start at No.10 in place of rookie Jake McIntyre, who drops to the bench.

The Reds and Force will be playing to avoid the competition's dreaded wooden spoon tonight, with Queensland second-last (17 points) and the Force last (15).

Having the gifted Cooper back will help the 2011 champions in their quest to finish their last three games of the season with some respectability, while Graham battles to hold on to his job.

"At this time of the year, anyone coming back gives confidence to the group after the injuries we've had throughout the season," said Graham, who coached the Force before switching to the Reds. "He (Cooper) is a class footballer - he's played over 100 games for the club, and is well-respected within the playing group.

"He's been back training with us now for three or four weeks, so he looks really comfortable with the ball in hand."

The Reds will receive another boost with flanker Beau Robinson (calf) also set to return for this fixture.

Meanwhile, young hooker Hugh Roach will get his opportunity for the Waratahs against the Lions in Johannesburg tomorrow morning. The Tahs need to win to retain top spot on the Australian conference.

Topics:  gary oak quade cooper queensland reds richard graham super rugby

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