No return for Cooper

07 February 2018 22:34:45 GMTPlus11

The Blues won't be handing Quade Cooper a return to Super Rugby, despite losing playmaker Steven Perofeta to injury.

The Auckland franchise have ruled out making a play for Cooper, who has been discarded by the Reds.

Their heir apparent at No 10 Perofeta, who starred in last year's upset of the British and Irish Lions, is set to miss at least the opening month of the season after fracturing his hand in last Friday's 45-19 pre-season victory over the Chiefs in Te Kuiti.

Perofeta is expected to take six weeks to recover, meaning he will miss the trip to the Highlanders, the home date against the Chiefs and the club's two-game tour to South Africa where they'll face the Lions and Stormers.

However, coach Tana Umaga says the franchise won't be bringing in any replacements so Cooper isn't being targeted.

The New Zealand-born former Wallaby had been seen around Auckland, leading to speculation the Blues - the bottom side in the New Zealand Conference last year - were about to hand him a deal.

Losing Perofeta is a big blow to Umaga's side, who have already seen their other frontline No 10 Otere Black almost certainly ruled out for the season with a major ACL injury.

Umaga said: "We're unable to bring in players. You have to have two injuries in the same position, and we don't want that. We've got to look within the squad at who can cover there.

"We've still got Bryn Gatland and Daniel Kirkpatrick, and this gives an opportunity for them. We're very happy with the way all our players have been running, and they'll get another week to cement some things, and we'll see how that goes against the Hurricanes (in Warkworth) next week."

Umaga, who said the Blues hadn't talked to Cooper, is nursing a significant injury toll.

Michael Collins, Blake Gibson, Matt Moulds, Kara Pryor, Matt Johnson, James Parsons, Jerome Kaino, Scott Scrafton, Leni Apisai, Josh Goodhue, Dan Kirkpatrick, Sione Mafileo and Isaac Salmon were unavailable for this week's Brisbane Tens jaunt.

The Blues are 5001.00 to win the Super Rugby Grand Final and 501.00 to make the play-offs.

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