Cooper to miss Super play-off
Tue, 17 Jul 2012 7:52a.m.
Super Rugby champions Queensland will weigh up the risk versus reward elements of an appeal after losing playmaker Quade Cooper to suspension for Saturday night's qualifying final.
The Reds suffered a major jolt to their title defence with Cooper ruled out of the sudden-death clash against the Sharks following a marathon judicial hearing on Monday evening.
The Wallabies five-eighth was found guilty of a dangerous tackle after collecting NSW centre Berrick Barnes high in the Reds' 32-16 final-round win over the Waratahs last weekend.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge, arguing first contact was on Barnes' chest, but SANZAR judicial officer Paul Tully found the blow justified a one-game ban following a four-and-a-half hearing.
"It's something I didn't want to hear," a gutted Cooper said after the hearing at Ballymore. "I felt we had a very strong case.
"We're disappointed with the outcome but at the same time I'm sure my teammates will get through this week.
"There's contact with the head all throughout the game and whether it be initial contact, which we disagree with, it was more chest on chest.
"It wasn't anything intentional or anything malicious."
Barnes was forced from the field in a groggy state but Cooper also pointed out another high tackle in the match was only dealt with by a penalty.
The star No.10, coach Ewen McKenzie and defence lawyer Mark Martin will discuss the option of an appeal over the next 24 hours but Cooper hinted they were wary about adding more weeks to his ban.
If the Reds beat the Sharks then Cooper will be free to return for the semi-final against the Chiefs in Hamilton next week.
"Obviously with an appeal there's an opportunity for the one week to become anything from two to three weeks and you run the risk of missing the remainder of the competition," he said.
McKenzie must now choose between utility back Ben Lucas and goalkicking inside centre Mike Harris to start at five-eighth against the Sharks.
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