Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Cooper brings flair to game

Quade Cooper. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Quade Cooper. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The rugby world would be drearier without Quade Cooper.

In a sport which has become increasingly programmed as it careers deep into its second decade of professionalism, Cooper offers an all-too-rare palette of boisterous invention.

At times he surprises himself. His crosskick in his 22, under advantage, against the Hurricanes last round was gloriously unsuccessful but it opened our minds to what might have been.

Cooper must test his coaches' nerves with some of his antics, but he brings an atypical edge to his work, which reaches a milestone 100 matches for the Reds tomorrow at Eden Park.

He has also brought some boofhead acts in his kitbag, like his cowardly knee to All Black captain Richie McCaw's head at the same ground. Cooper collected sustained booing for that senseless act but it was carried on too long. It became tedious - he's done the crime and his time.

In much the way Carlos Spencer lit up Eden Park, Cooper carries an array of quixotic ideas he wraps around standard rugby strategies. He bristles with plans, half of them as daft as a 50c banknote.

What will we get tomorrow, the gridiron pass, the back-heeled drop kick or a new signature flourish?

When Cooper's mind and body are in sync and the Reds pack works up some steam, they are dangerous.

After falling out with Robbie Deans Cooper regained his role with new coach Ewen McKenzie.

He reached 50 caps and more reliability on the Wallabies tour to Europe, but both he and long-time colleague Will Genia are under threat for their test jobs.

Cooper has survived an array of stages in his career. He has risen, fallen and risen again.

He is going through a rough patch but whatever the perceptions the certainty is that he remains one of the drawcards in rugby.

- NZ Herald

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Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

The latest commentary and analysis from senior rugby writer Wynne Gray. Wynne has been covering the All Blacks for more than 27 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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