Queensland coach Brad Thorn has slammed the door shut on Quade Cooper, saying the superstar outcast would remain just that despite admitting the Reds were lacking inspiration after Saturday night's Super Rugby drubbing in Sydney.
Thorn also all but ruled out a return for fellow Wallabies back Karmichael Hunt following the Reds' 37‑16 loss to the NSW Waratahs.
But it was Thorn's determination to leave Cooper out in the cold that will most bewilder and frustrate Queensland fans.
Queensland veteran and stand‑in captain James Slipper is backing Thorn's young side to turn their season around after losing their past three games to lose touch with the Waratahs, Australia's new conference leaders.
At the end of round 9 the Hurricanes now lead the overall Super Rugby points table with 27 points, the Lions are second with 25 points, the Waratahs are third with 24 points while Defending Champions the Crusaders are fourth also with 24 points.
The Reds will take on the Chiefs 9.45pm Saturday.
On Friday, the Blues will face the Highlanders at 7.35pm and the Waratahs will meet the Lions at 9.45pm.
On Saturday, the Crusaders take on the Sunwolves at 7.35pm, while on Sunday the Bulls meet the Rebels at 1.05am, the Sharks face the Stormers at 3.15am, and the Brumbies will take on the Jaguares at 6.05pm.
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