Reds respect Cooper but focus on themselves ahead of derby: Hegarty

Reds flyhalf Bryce Hegarty says there’ll be no target on Quade Cooper’s back when the mercurial Rebels 10 returns to Queensland for the first time as the enemy.

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Cooper returns to Suncorp Stadium on Saturday for the first time as a Rebel after 12 seasons and 118 Super Rugby games with Queensland.

The no. 10 was told by coach Brad Thorn at the start of the 2018 season that he was not required by the Reds and played out a season with premier grade club Souths before signing with the Rebels.

Cooper has taken some thinly-veiled swipes at Thorn on social media since his departure but Hegarty said the players only had respect for Cooper going into the game.

“He’s been a good player for a long time in Australian rugby and he’s got the respect of me and other players that he deserves but I don’t focus too much at all on him or any other player, I focus on my own game and I want to achieve what I want to achieve for the game,” he said.

“I want to play well for this team and as a collective we want to play well and execute the things we want to execute together and bring that humility to Queensland as well and playing for each other, playing for all the boys and hopefully in that Brumbies game on the weekend, hopefully that was evident in how we played.

The Reds’ challenge will be backing up a dominant Aussie derby win against a Rebels side that desperately needs a win.

Melbourne started the year with three straight wins before suffering two losses in Africa in recent weeks while Queensland has tallied its two wins from the past two rounds.

Hegarty said their approach this week was all about ensuring they could back up their round six effort.

“Hopefully, that’s what we’ve spoken about a lot and we want to pride ourselves on being that consistent team that constantly delivers and it starts on the training field,” he said.

“You’re training well, you’re taking that into games, you’re preparing for the games how you want to prepare and then you can execute in the games when it comes to it and in those high pressure moments.

“I think it comes down to playing for one another and knowing your detail, going into games and then building on that momentum and that consistency that we’re starting to get now.

“So, it’s up to us keeping it going.”

The Reds host the Rebels on Saturday March 30 at Suncorp Stadium, kicking off at 6:45pm local, 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.

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