Reds have mental edge: Quade

RUGBY UNION

Quade Cooper has spelt out the huge task that NSW face in overturning the mental edge that Queensland possess in their intense Super Rugby rivalry.

The Wallabies playmaker yesterday highlighted the Reds' psychological advantage after five straight wins over their arch-rivals.

Cooper lost his first five meetings with the Waratahs from 2007 to 2011 and felt that Queensland's current streak would be a definite factor in Saturday's grudge match at ANZ Stadium.

"No matter what sport you play, if you can get momentum against a team then momentum tends to stay in your favour for a while and it is a tough task to slow that momentum," he said.

"I remember being on the receiving end of NSW beating us five in a row and thinking 'are we ever going to beat them?'

"It does give you a lot of hunger, and we know the Waratahs will be hungry to beat us, but at the same time this [Reds] team is hungry to continue ... that stranglehold."

History backs up Cooper's assertion as the 17 years of Super Rugby have seen three different periods of domination for the traditional rivals - Queensland were unbeaten from 1996-2004, NSW won all seven from 2005-11 then the Reds took the last five.

Queensland's intense desire was best shown when they broke their losing streak three years ago by gallantly defending their line for most of the second half at Suncorp Stadium in a thrilling 19-15 win.

Since then, the Reds prevailed with three tight victories and a runaway win in the last round of 2012 to claim the Bob Templeton Cup.

NSW suffered a last-gasp loss to the Reds in the opening match in 2012, when Dom Shipperley broke three tackles in the final minute to race away for a match-winning 70m try at ANZ Stadium.

The boot had been on the other foot just two years before, when Wycliff Palu brushed off Cooper in the dying seconds in the 2010 season-opener, the second of two late Waratahs' tries to steal a 30-28 victory.

"You learn from those games," the Reds five-eighth said. "We should have shut that game out.

"From a playmaking view point, myself and Willy [Genia] we learn a lot about those past experiences and we're better for it."

Preparing as though goal-kicking could well decide another close contest, Cooper said he was a far better marksman now than he was when the Reds took the 2011 title.

"No doubt about it, and that just comes down to work rate," he said.

Queensland coach Richard Graham, to name his team today, was unsurprised that aggressive South African Jacques Potgieter has replaced colossal lock Will Skelton in the NSW's starting pack.

"When he came on at the weekend [against the Western Force] he added a real physical presence ... and Michael [Cheika] wants to base a large part of his game on that abrasive style," Graham said. - AAP

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