25 May 2015

Reds give up on keeping Cooper

2:52 pm on 25 May 2015

The Queensland Reds say they have done all they can to retain Quade Cooper and have begun planning for life without the off-contract Wallabies star.

Cooper is set to make his return from a shoulder fracture for Saturday's Super Rugby wooden spoon battle with the Western Force, leaving him with just three more games in Reds colours before his expected departure for European club powerhouse Toulon next season.

It's understood the Queensland Rugby Union has completed their part of the three-way negotiations with Cooper and his manager Khoder Nasser, who are now dealing directly with the Australian Rugby Union over the possibility of staying in the country, most likely on a flexible contract.

The Queensland Reds' first-five Quade Cooper.

The Queensland Reds' first-five Quade Cooper. Photo: Photosport

Austrailan media reports over the weekend said Cooper had already assured Toulon, who prematurely trumpeted his signing back in April, that he would join them after the Rugby World Cup.

Queensland coach Richard Graham dismissed it as "speculation" but was unable to provide any update on discussions with the 27-year-old.

However, Graham admitted the Reds may be forced to look overseas for a replacement flyhalf if Cooper does leave Ballymore, where he has spent his entire professional career to date.

Cooper needs to make just seven more Test appearances before the year is out to qualify for the ARU's new eligibility rules that allow for overseas-based players to represent the Wallabies.