Queensland Reds have retained one of their marquee recruits from this season, with Japan international Hendrik Tui re-signing for 2016.
Tui had limited game time for the Reds this season, arriving from Suntory Sungoliath, playing just the final two Super Rugby games after breaking his leg with the Japanese club.
The Auckland-born number eight has 28 Japan caps after a decade-long stint in Tokyo, arriving in the Japanese capital as a 19-year-old.
His retention is a boon for the Reds, after former All Black flanker Adam Thomson signed with the Rebels.
That move is believed to be leaving the door open for an international flyhalf search, despite young 10s Jake McIntyre and Sam Greene committing on Wednesday.
With Cooper now gone, first to Toulon, then reportedly for an Olympic sevens tilt and now at the centre of an ongoing contract saga, the Reds are likely to look abroad for an experienced 10 to take the pressure off their youngsters.
Queensland are in the market for a foreign number 10, with their foreign marquee spot open following Thomson’s departure and former France International Frederic Michalak has reportedly been discussed.
Former Waratahs lock Kane Douglas is yet to be announced as a 2016 signing but is likely to be heading for the Reds and a possible Wallabies spot.
This time last year Queensland were on the verge of announcing the recruiting coups of James O’Connor and Karmichael Hunt at their annual gala dinner, a time that seems far removed from their present state of flux.
Reds coach Richard Graham said it was good to have Tui signed for next season.
“He made it very clear he wanted to return to Ballymore and be involved with the squad moving forward,” he said.
“With the expansion of Super Rugby (to Japan and Argentina) and other options available, it says a lot about his character.”