Rugby: Rebel O'Connor ready to for Reds' Cooper

Forget friendship. Melbourne Rebels five-eighth James O'Connor says he's out to destroy Queensland's Quade Cooper in their Super Rugby clash.

Stand-in skipper O'Connor will lead the Rebels against the Reds at AAMI Park on Friday night and says there's no chance of his going soft on great mate Cooper.

Revved up after their final training session, O'Connor said playing against his Wallabies teammate only made him go harder.

"When it comes to 7.40pm I've got 21 other brothers and he won't be a mate of mine," said O'Connor.

"He's (Cooper) physically looking pretty good.

"I know he's feeling pretty good so it's our job to destroy that."

Melbourne coach Damien Hill said shutting down the enigmatic Cooper was integral to his side breaking through for their first ever win over Queensland.

"Quade's been instrumental to how they have been playing," Hill said.

"The Reds rely heavily upon him at the moment for their direction and that spark."

O'Connor has shifted to No.10 in the absence of the injured Kurtley Beale, with rookie Gus Roberts making his debut at fullback.

With Beale absent on Wallabies duty during the pre-season O'Connor said he already had a strong combination training with Roberts.

Hill was impressed how the 22-year-old had so far handled the week.

"It's like he's been playing for 10 years because he's been very composed," Hill said.

"He's a very intelligent young man and knows his role inside and out and the team have a lot of confidence in him."

Hill didn't feel Queensland had lost anything with their selection of young halfback Nick Frisby for his run-on Super Rugby debut.

The Reds have also opted for Jono Lance at fullback, with fringe Wallaby Luke Morahan seemingly out of favour and unable to even make the 22.

Australian under-20 utility Frisby will replace Ben Lucas at No.9 while Lance last started in the custodian's role in the 2011 title decider against the Crusaders.

Wallabies centre Anthony Faingaa has also returned from five weeks sidelined with a hand injury to further bolster the midfield.

Queensland coaching boss Ewen McKenzie said Lance's "stand-out" efforts for the Reds College in their 24-3 win over Tonga A also warranted selection.

Halfback Lucas has been cleared of the shoulder injury he sustained in the 18-12 win over the Hurricanes but will come off the bench after only playing a restricted role at training.

Injured Wallaby No.9 Will Genia is expected to return next week against the Western Force.

Queensland Reds: Jono Lance, Dom Shipperley, Anthony Faingaa, Ben Tapuai, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Nick Frisby; Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Ed Quirk, Ed O'Donoghue, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Saia Faingaa, Greg Holmes. Res: James Hanson, Albert Anae, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Radike Samo, Ben Lucas, Mike Harris, Chris Feauai-Sautia.

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