Quade Cooper starred on his Queensland return as the Reds thrashed Melbourne 32-13 in a Super Rugby trial match in Brisbane on Tuesday night.

The returning flyhalf, whose last game in Queensland colours was at the end of the 2015 Super season, was instrumental in two of the Reds' tries at Ballymore and combined impressively with his fellow backs, especially Karmichael Hunt.

The match began inauspiciously for the Reds when Rebels winger Sefa Naivulu raced 50m for a try, brushing off tackles from Cooper, Nick Frisby and Hunt.

Rebels flyhalf Jackson Garden-Bachop, who is fighting for the No.10 jersey with Jack Debreczeni, traded penalty goals with Cooper for Melbourne to lead 10-3 after 20 minutes.

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Their lead lasted only another two minutes when Cooper fed Hunt inside, who set up Rob Simmons who dived over for a five-pointer just to the left of the uprights.

Cooper and Hunt again linked nicely before halftime to get the Reds on the front foot.

Frisby then took a quick penalty tap, found Duncan Paia'aua who collected the ball off his feet to hand on to Eto Nabuli for another try as the home side banked a 20-13 advantage at the break.

The No.10 set up another five-pointer when he picked up a ball just inside the Rebels' half and threw a flat pass to Hunt.

Paia'aua was again the link as Chris Kuridrani touched down in the corner midway through the second half.

The other high-profile returnee for the Reds, Scott Higginbotham, also impressed after coming on for Leroy Houston.

He distinguished himself quickly by holding up Laurie Weeks over the try-line and then added gloss on the scoreline by touching down in the corner nine minutes from fulltime for his side's fourth try.

"I think there's a different desire in this team at the moment," said Reds coach Nick Stiles.

"We've played the Rebels over the last few years in trials and we haven't fronted up... and today there was a sense of urgency that this was different."

Stiles was particularly happy with the backs combination, highlighting the input of Paia'aua at inside centre.

"Having that ball distributor at 12 gives you and having a really strong runner in Samu (Kerevi) outside of him is really exciting and it takes also pressure off Quade that he doesn't have to be the man," Stiles said.

"I like the balance in that area."

- AAP