Quade Cooper wary of new-look Waratahs
He's goaded NSW as "boring" in the past but Quade Cooper's now a wary admirer of a NSW Waratahs outfit he sees as a multi-dimensional Super Rugby threat.
Bracing for a classic interstate battle on Saturday night, the controversial Queensland playmaker has rated the Waratahs a far more dangerous proposition due to their attacking intentions under new coach Michael Cheika.
NSW play their first Super Rugby clash under Cheika against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium but have already impressed with their more expansive style in three pre-season matches.
Cooper, an outspoken critic of the Wallabies' dour play and conservative tactics last year, felt the Waratahs' desire to complement their Test-quality forward pack with positive backline play made them harder and trickier to combat.
"In their past they've been a very conservative side and now they're looking to open up a little bit more and show a more flamboyant style, and it's suiting the players that they have recruited," he said.
"Their pack is a great pack and now having good backs out wide bringing that balance is working for them.
"If a team only has a good forward pack it is very limited as to what it can do.
"Rather than concentrate on their forward pack you (as an opponent) have to start looking at their backs now as well."
Nippy former Brumbies flanker Michael Hooper has added an edge to their powerful forwards while the recruitment of imposing code-hopper Israel Folau has bolstered an outside back contingent already boasting Drew Mitchell, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Tom Kingston.
Cooper tipped the visitors would have "threats right across the board" on Saturday night.
The 38-test five-eighth's support for NSW's adventure is in contrast to his comments four years ago when he belittled the former high-flyers as "boring".
"It's great for rugby," Cooper said on Tuesday.
"The more that teams play a positive mindset in games it's going to be a whole lot better for the spectators and for the entertainment brand of rugby."
Most pressure will be on the NSW five-eighth, either Bernard Foley or rookie Ben Volavola, to be the linchpin but Cooper stressed neither would be under-rated.
While Queensland have built up a reputation as entertainers in the past four seasons, Cooper was unable to unleash their attack in their opening 24-6 loss in Canberra due to the Brumbies' breakdown pressure and defence.
"Quadey can only do his magic when our forwards are going forward, and things will connect from then on," said winger Digby Ioane.
Part-time boxer Cooper expected plenty of feeling in the traditional grudge match but didn't want an overflow of hate.
"Anytime that Queensland and NSW verse each other it's always a bloodbath," he said.
"There's always a fierce rivalry there and from the first kickoff there's ... a little bit of argy-bargy.
"You have to get past that and remember there's a game to win."