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Wallaby playmaker Cooper seals Reds return

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Sydney (AFP)

Maverick fly-half Quade Cooper has signed a three-year contract with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) taking him back to the Queensland Reds.

The new deal will carry the 28-year-old through until the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the ARU said Thursday.

Cooper played 105 Super Rugby matches from 2007 before moving to European heavyweights Toulon in 2015.

He has also won 59 Test caps for the Wallabies, including in the defeat to the All Blacks last weekend in Wellington, his first full international since last year's World Cup.

Cooper said he had missed Test rugby during his spell in France.

"For me, playing at the highest level for the Wallabies against the best teams in the world, week in, week out is the ultimate.

"Being back in Australia and having the opportunity to play for the Wallabies is something that drives me every day and being around my friends and family in Queensland is equally important for me," he said.

Australia coach Michael Cheika saluted Cooper's move.

"I am very pleased that Quade has decided to return to Australia to play his rugby," Cheika said.

"His return brings back his trademark flair and X-factor but also, after his experience overseas, a wiser approach to the way he can lead the team around the field.

"I really believe he will make a big impact on the game both for Queensland and for the national team."

New Zealand-born Cooper, who has amassed 154 points for the Wallabies since his 2008 debut, confirmed his departure from Toulon in July, a year after signing from the Reds.

He failed to settle in southern France and struggled to secure a starting spot.

Often considered a great talent, Cooper, who has dabbled in professional boxing during off-seasons, has a controversial past.

He was fined heavily by the ARU in 2012 after describing the atmosphere within the Aussie squad as "toxic".

A year earlier he was accused of deliberately kneeing All Black legend Richie McCaw in the face and has since been booed every match he has played in New Zealand.

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