Blues’ Brett baits reds’ quade Cooper with some ‘cheeky comments’ on Twitter

2011-06-30 00:00

AUCKLAND — As is the way these days, Stephen Brett has already engaged his opposite number in Saturday’s Super Rugby semi-final — via Twitter.

Nothing like a bit of verbal jousting ahead of the main event, even if you are restricted to 140 characters or less.

But the Blues flyhalf is well aware the real statements will be made at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane when he goes head-to-head against Reds playmaker Quade Cooper in what is likely to be the pivotal match-up of the night.

According to Rugby Heaven correspondent Marc Hinton, Brett will be a crucial figure for the Blues in what is likely to be much more user-friendly conditions than they’ve become used to. As the Blues look to unleash their backline, decision-making and execution in the playmaker role will be vital.

But standing opposite him will be arguably the game’s most influential figure — the multi-faceted Cooper, who has as good a bag of tricks as any No. 10 in the game these days. So much of the Reds’ game plan generates from the quick thinking, and quicker feet, of Cooper at No. 10 and Will Genia inside him.

But if the prospect of taking on possibly the game’s most talented flyhalf not named Dan Carter fazes Brett at all he was doing a good job disguising it as he spoke to the media at Blues training this week.

“Me and Quade are friends on Twitter,” said Brett with a grin. “We’ve been giving a bit of grief to each other. He’s a great player. I enjoy playing against him, and I guess whatever first-five steps up their game hopefully will get a good win for their team.”

Brett said the tweet exchange had been confined to a “couple of cheeky comments” thus far, but he had no doubts about the seriousness of the threat presented by the Reds at Nos 9 and 10.

“It’s massive. They’re such great players, and if they get good gain-line they’re hard to stop. Quade has got such jinky feet and Will throws those wide passes. If we can eliminate them, hopefully it’s going to be an even game.”

The key to that?

“Line speed,” Brett said. “Getting up on them, putting a bit of pressure on them, and whenever their forward runners come round, try and smack them back behind the gain line.”

A similar theory applies to Digby Ioane who returns from injury to add his cut and thrust to the dangerous Reds backline.

Asked about what made Ioane such an effective performer, Brett pointed out that he benched around 180 kg and squatted nearer 240. “He’s a pretty powerful and explosive man, and he’s got good feet as well. If we get good line speed up against them, hopefully we can eliminate that.”

The Japan-bound No. 10, who still harbours hopes of an All Black call-up, reaffirmed that the Blues had learned plenty from their 37-31 defeat to the Reds at Suncorp on May 13.

“We let them get 24 points up, and you let any Super Rugby side get 24 up it’s always going to be hard to get back. It was just our missed tackles. We weren’t prepared for the game they brought to us, and hopefully this week we can be ready to go.”

The Blues are heading to Brisbane a day earlier than the round-robin trip, hoping the extra time will have them more settled come kickoff.

For the Blues No 10, much like several of his team-mates, there is more than a spot in the final to play for. There’s also imminent All Blacks selection.

“I still see I can try and push myself a bit further. Finals rugby is what the three wise men look at, and I just want to put a performance on the field.”

A win would also put a few farewells on hold, including his own. “Obviously all you fellas are trying to get it out of me, but you ain’t going to get it out of me,” said Brett of his off-shore destination which contractual details forbade him from revealing.

“It’s going to be the last game for some players if we lose, so we’ve got to go out there and make sure it’s not our last game.”

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