Wallabies hopeful Quade Cooper nearly bested his own club records upon returning to rugby nine months after blowing his Achilles tendon.
Cooper made his first meaningful appearance for the Hanazono Kintetsu Liners in the Rugby League One competition this season, just a few weeks after a bizarre cameo in which his first outing lasted just one minute.
A prerequisite for contesting the promotion/relegation series is having played in the regular season round-robin.
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Cooper was named in Sunday’s starting line-up against the Urayasu D-Rocks, which featured Israel Folau.
The 35-year-old played the first 40 minutes before being subbed off for former Hurricanes fly-half Jackson Garden-Bachop early in the second half.
It was Cooper’s team that prevailed in the first game, winning 36-14 at Yurtec Stadium Sendai in Miyagi. The Liners scored five tries to the D-Rocks two.
Taking to social media, Cooper hailed his return to the game a success.
“It was a great feeling being back out there,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Was nice to be part of the win and continue the journey another week.
“Felt good physically and clocked my third fastest accelerations in the four years I’ve been at this club which is a good sign and also my second best top speed.”
Prior to the kick-off, Cooper posted a philosophical reflection after the lengthy layoff.
“Sitting in the locker room for my first game reflecting on the journey so far,” Cooper wrote.
“Grateful for every opportunity this game has provided along the way and more important the lessons we learn throughout the journey.
“One thing I’ve learned is that success is what you work toward every day.
“There’s no top of the mountain you just keep climbing and in that, you find your success.”
The Liners will face the D-Rocks in game two on May 13 at Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka.
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