RWC 2011: Cooper happy to be public enemy number one
Story and Photo: www.rugbyworldcup.com
AUCKLAND, 7 Sept. – With his attacking prowess, Kiwi heritage and tussles with Richie McCaw, Quade Cooper is considered public enemy number one by many New Zealand rugby fans. And it’s a title the Wallabies' playmaker is happy to embrace.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” the fly half said with a smile. “It’s going to come with the territory.”
Cooper, who was born in Auckland and moved to Australia in 2002, perhaps understands better than most the intensity of trans-Tasman rivalry.
"Most New Zealanders hate the Wallabies, but there are a lot out there that respect the way that we play as well. We have a lot of respect for the All Black public and the All Black jersey.”
Cooper also often draws the ire of All Blacks fans over what they perceive to be his attempts to provoke McCaw.
'I don't know the bloke'
Despite being cited, and cleared, after kneeing the All Blacks captain in the head during Australia’s Tri Nations victory over New Zealand last month, Cooper does not believe there is any bad blood between him and McCaw.
“From my point of view there's not,” he said. “It's just a matter of he's wearing a different jersey.
"I've got 14 other blokes on the field who have my back, he's got 14 other blokes on his team that are really looking to dominate us as well.
"I don't know the bloke. I haven't had much to do with him off the field but I know that when he's out on the field he plays his heart out, wears his heart on his sleeve and does a great job of leading the All Blacks around the park."
Last month's Tri Nations incident was the latest involving Cooper and McCaw, who also clashed twice in a Test in Hong Kong last October, but McCaw has also downplayed any friction.
"I have absolutely nothing against the guy at all. I never get personal on the field," he said.