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Quade Cooper back with big job for Reds

NZN 12/04/2017 Laine Clark

Quade Cooper's return can't come soon enough for the Queensland Reds and he owes them some strong performances.

Wallabies playmaker Cooper is set to make his comeback from a three-match ban for a dangerous tackle in Saturday's Super Rugby clash with South Africa's Kings at Suncorp Stadium.

It comes with the struggling Reds (1-6) still holding onto hope they can win the Australian conference, despite having lost all three matches in Cooper's absence and run up a six-match losing streak.

Fullback Karmichael Hunt admitted the Reds had struggled to adjust as Jake McIntyre filled in as chief playmaker.

"Quade was a big loss with that suspension," said Hunt, who returns from concussion against the Kings.

"We knew we would struggle to cover his expertise.

"For him to go down it was a bit of an adjustment getting Jakey involved.

"But now having him back in the fold will be beneficial for everyone."

With eight games left, including four at home, the injury-hit Reds are second-last in the Australian conference with six points, 10 adrift of leaders the Brumbies.

It is an underwhelming record for a Reds franchise that welcomed back Cooper and Scott Higginbotham this season while also loading up on legendary flanker George Smith and Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore in the off-season.

But Hunt still believed they could salvage something from their dire season.

"It's weird. A lot of our Aussie conference games are at the back end of the year and we are still in reach even though we have won just one game," Hunt said.

"And the good thing is more boys are coming back from injury after the break.

"The results are the most difficult thing. We turn up to win so having one from seven is disappointing.

"But Quade is back and I am back this week - we are going to go out and try and play some good rugby."

Hunt said ar priority was to avoid a repeat of their "shambolic" second half in last round's 43-10 thumping from the Brumbies in Canberra.

"I can't argue with that summation," he said.

"The boys are very disappointed with that second half effort.

"To let the Brumbies run over them like that is unacceptable.

"They have stood up since and said 'we need to be better'."

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