Wallaby star Quade Cooper has praised the Waratahs for embracing an entertaining style that he believes will benefit Australian Rugby as a whole as the country gets set to welcome the Lions this summer.
Cooper described the Waratahs as ‘boring’ back in 2009 but he believes new head coach Michael Cheika has already changed the philosophy at the New South Wales franchise.
Fly-half Cooper, who is known for his own maverick approach, is all set to go head-to-head with the Tahs in four days’ time when the Reds host their biggest rivals in Brisbane.
And although Saturday’s opponents didn’t feature in the opening round of Super XV action last week, Cooper was impressed with what he saw of Cheika’s troops in pre-season.
"In their past they've been a very conservative side and now they're looking to open up a little bit more and show a more flamboyant style, and it's suiting the players that they have recruited," said Cooper, who has been particularly taken by the early form of cross-code star Israel Folau and Test team-mate Michael Hooper.
"Their pack is a great pack and now having good backs out wide bringing that balance is working for them.
"If a team only has a good forward pack it is very limited as to what it can do.
"Rather than concentrate on their forward pack you have to start looking at their backs now as well.
"It's great for rugby. The more that teams play a positive mindset in games it's going to be a whole lot better for the spectators and for the entertainment brand of rugby."
Cooper may currently be focusing on all things rugby with the Reds but he has spoken publicly about his desire to box again after making his professional debut earlier this month.
The 24-year-old won his opening bout by first-round knockout on the undercard of the Sonny Bill Williams v Francois Botha contest and he intends to fight again this year.
That desire doesn’t fit well with the Australian Rugby Union, though, with CEO Bill Pulver desperate to ensure one of his marquee men doesn’t enter the ring again before the Lions tour or immediately after.
“Do I like the fact that one of our Super Rugby players had a boxing match the week before the first game? In all honesty, no, not particularly,” said Pulver.
“Had I been coach of that team, that would not have been my preference. But that's water under the bridge. There's nothing I can do about that.
“My preference is that those players who are contracted to the ARU focus on rugby.”