Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: Kiwi jeers just bounce off Cooper

Quade Cooper says he has learned to handle booing from New Zealand crowds. Photo / Getty Images
Quade Cooper says he has learned to handle booing from New Zealand crowds. Photo / Getty Images

Quade Cooper gave the best response he could to the churlish booing among the 28,973 crowd in Dunedin.

His goalkicking was flawless and apart from one late overhead pass which had too much sting, the Wallaby five eighths put in a very strong shift.

Some spectators with very small brains or too much fluid on board, could not appreciate that. They have not moved on from those incidents when Cooper attacked All Black skipper Richie McCaw.

They were cheap shots and Cooper has taken some serious verbal punishment for that folly especially at the 2011 World Cup.

The game, the All Blacks, McCaw and most rugby watchers have moved on.

"I have come to expect it and it is not something I enjoy, don't get me wrong, but I have come to expect it," Cooper said candidly afterwards.

"So when I'm training I think about that and come out on the field and it is something that I know is going to be there and you can't silence it.

"But all you can do is kick well and do your job for the team and that sound starts to dim down in your head.

"That's something as a player I have to put up with and work with that."

Cooper agreed it felt good to play well but the Wallabies did not get the result they wanted.

However, they had fronted before a tough crowd against the best team in the world and he felt he had put in a strong shift.

He was working hard on and off the field and felt he was getting the benefits.

There was no alternative for the Wallabies.

They had to work very hard to get back into the winners' circle but time on the road this season, sifting ideas about how they should play, was bringing some rewards.

"The closer we come as a team when we play the All Blacks and South Africa the better we will be in the long run and that is what we are looking at as a rugby team and a nation, being a good team over a long period of time," he said.

The end-of-year tour to Europe should deliver even more growth as the group bonded more and understood how they lived and played their chosen sport.

"Being on the road for six weeks is something this group has never done together and after that trio to South Africa and Argentina we could see how much we had grown."

Cooper's regular halfback partner Will Genia also showed more of the form in his 50th test which made him such a standout throughout the Super 15.

The Wallabies had used some of the confidence gained from their big win against the Pumas to keep them in the Dunedin test.

"At 23-12 we could have thrown in the towel and just got spanked but we still chased the game even though we couldn't win right at the end. It is about having pride in what we want to do."

The Wallabies were still looking for the right balance in their game after trying all running then all kicking in tests during the Rugby Championship.

"Going to the Northern Hemisphere we will need to play a different type of game as well," he said.

- NZ Herald

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