Melbourne Rebels captain Dane Haylett-Petty has warmly welcomed Quade Cooper's return from Super Rugby exile, describing the former Wallabies flyhalf as the "ultimate professional".
Cooper, 30, spent the 2018 season playing third-tier club rugby in Brisbane after being frozen out of the Queensland Reds by new coach Brad Thorn.
However, the 70-cap international has been thrown a career lifeline by the Dave Wessels-coached Rebels, who are bidding for a maiden playoffs place after eight fruitless seasons since joining the sprawling competition in 2011.
Mercurial Cooper has polarised fans and pundits for over a decade in Australian rugby but Wallabies fullback Haylett-Petty spoke of a player who had already won respect from the Rebels roster before even playing a game for them.
"I think the big thing for me is whether he's on the field or off he's such a good influence on the group, especially the younger guys," the Rebels skipper told reporters on Friday.
"He's the ultimate professional and sets a really good example for the boys and his rugby IQ is amazing - like no one I've ever played with or met - so just that knowledge he can impart to the group is amazing."
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