‘Paying a guy that much, he should be under the bright lights’
ROOKIE Reds coach Brad Thorn wants to introduce a State of Origin attitude to his Super Rugby team, which explains the absence of Quade Cooper.
That's the assessment of All Blacks and Highlanders five-eighth Lima Sopoaga, who knows the Thorn mentality well.
Two seasons as a teammate at the Highlanders gave Sopoaga an insight into Thorn's wholehearted attitude towards dedication.
He suspects that's why mercurial playmaker Cooper has been shut out of the 2018 campaign by the former Queensland and Australia rugby league forward and reduced to playing club rugby.
"I think what Thorny's trying to do is bring back the real Queenslander mindset that probably featured during his Origin days," Sopoaga said before Saturday's Reds clash with the Highlanders in Brisbane.
"I think he just wants to go with some youth and head in a new direction. There's nothing wrong with that either.
"But for people wondering where Quade is, it's got nothing to do with him and he can't do anything about it."
Sopoaga is nevertheless fascinated by the outcome, with Cooper contracted on a big money Queensland and Rugby Australia deal.
Cooper has reportedly rejected offers from the Rebels and Brumbies to shift states.
It's something Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has implored the 30-year-old to consider if he wants a return to the Test ranks.
"If you're paying a guy that much, he probably should be out on the park under the bright lights instead of playing park footy at 2.30 in the arvo," Sopoaga said.
A youthful Reds side impressed in a 38-34 loss to the high flying Hurricanes in Wellington last week, which left Thorn's side with a 4-7 record.
Sopoaga was in the Highlanders side (7-4) thumped 40-12 by the Waratahs in Sydney, ending the 40 match streak for New Zealand teams in trans-Tasman matches.