Rugby World Cup: Cooper prefers boos to silence

Quade Cooper talks to the media ahead of Sunday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against South Africa. Photo
Quade Cooper talks to the media ahead of Sunday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against South Africa. Photo

Australian first five-eighth Quade Cooper has copped plenty of abuse from New Zealand crowds at the Rugby World Cup and he wants the constant booing to continue.

The Tokorua born no.10 was booed throughout the Wallabies' pool-play loss to Ireland at Eden Park after being labelled 'Public Enemy no.1' on the eve on the tournament.

All Blacks' fans are never going to cheer for a Wallaby but Cooper has been the special focus of jeers from crowds following a number of on-field incidents between the Australian and All Black captain Richie McCaw.

The 23-year-old escaped punishment after kneeing McCaw in the head during the Wallabies' Tri-Nations-clinching win at Brisbane in August and he also pushed a prone McCaw after James O'Connor scored a late match-winner in Hong Kong last year.

Surprisingly Cooper would prefer that the boos continued in Sunday's quarter-final against South Africa at Wellington Regional Stadium.

"In terms of goal kicking, it makes it a whole lot easier. If the whole stadium is quiet, then you know that there's 50 or 60,000 people just watching you," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"If you've ever had a drug test, and you've got one person standing there just looking at you when you go to the bathroom, well that's a pretty frightening experience.

"If there's 60,000 people watching you do the one action, it can freak you out. So if all these people are yelling, then you know they're doing something else, apart from looking at you."

It may actually disappoint New Zealand fans but Cooper says the boos sound more like a roar from the middle of the field.

"You'd be silly to say it didn't bother you in any way, but it's how you react to it. You can either choose to let it bother you, or use it as a way to give yourself confidence. You don't really hear anyone booing you, because all you can hear is a roar. If you let that roar get the better of you, then it can be to your detriment. So you have to take control of the situation."

Yesterday Cooper was the centre of the media attention, as he will be on Sunday when his unique and high-risk game could unlock the Springbok defence or bring his team down. Rugby is all the better for his presence, although he is still honing his work.

Cooper played with a very straight bat before the press, having just returned from a challenging training session in the notorious Wellington elements at Porirua Park.

"That's the thing which makes the game so interesting, playing in all sorts of conditions around the world," said Cooper, who found a couple of his kicks heading in reverse due to the strong Wellington wind.

"If this continues we might have to hold on to more ball into the headwind - every time we play in this tournament it tends to rain. But I don't think it's necessary to change much."

Cooper declared he would not tone his game down despite his blunder rate being a major issue for the Wallabies.

"If we park our ability or confidence it will only help them. We don't want to go into our shell - that doesn't suit us," he said.

Bok coach Peter de Villiers has claimed that giving Cooper too many options is a good way to confuse him.

Cooper is sceptical about the verbal battles that go on before matches, but is certainly used to them. He is natural press fodder, his on-field dramas matched by interest in his relationship with swimming superstar Stephanie Rice, a triple Olympic gold medallist.

Cooper said he took claims that opponents wanted to shut him down as a compliment, and also with a grain of salt. "They could be saying that as part of their tactics whether they are saying good or bad - if you read into it you've already lost the battle," he said.

- HERALD ONLINE with additional reporting by Chris Rattue

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