Wallabies strike weapon Samu Kerevi admits Quade Cooper's absence has left a big void at Queensland but believes the Reds' new-found game plan under coach Brad Thorn will surprise many this season.
Kerevi was named captain of the Reds' Brisbane Global Rugby Tens 26-strong squad that included three other Wallabies - James Slipper, Kane Douglas and Taniela Tupou. But the Reds squad for the February 9-10 tournament was more notable for who wasn't in it.
Ex-Wallabies playmaker Cooper began training at Brisbane club Souths this week after being told last month he was not in new mentor Thorn's 2018 Super Rugby plans despite being contracted for two more seasons. There was also no George Smith and as expected no Karmichael Hunt.
Wallabies great Smith has kept a low profile since it emerged only last week that he had been arrested on New Year's Eve in Japan for suspicion of evading a cab fare and allegedly assaulting the driver. And Hunt looks set to be sacked if he is found guilty of two charges of drug possession when he fronts court on January 29.
Kerevi was tightlipped about Smith and Hunt but claimed Cooper would bounce back to his best via Brisbane club rugby.
"It's a tough situation for Quade. He is still training hard in the off-season and that work ethic will help him come back stronger," he said.
"We have got some young guys to fill that void, and it is a big void to fill, but Thorny has made that decision on what he believes is best for the team."
Brisbane Tens selection, young gun Hamish Stewart, looks set to start at No.10 replacing Cooper this season.
"You will see expansive rugby but we want to keep how we play under wraps until the Tens so it is a surprise," Kerevi said.