Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Media antics highlight Cooper's fragile psyche

Quade Cooper's unpredictability is why Robbie Deans has recalled him for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images.
Quade Cooper's unpredictability is why Robbie Deans has recalled him for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images.

Quade Cooper's unpredictability is why Robbie Deans has recalled him for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park.

Down one test and needing to win the next two against their old foe to regain the Bledisloe Cup, the Wallabies need a spark and the Reds playmaker is probably the best man to provide it. Certainly, he will be more dangerous than Berrick Barnes, who filled the role in Sydney.

For Cooper, however, the unorthodox decision-making doesn't stop on the playing field and the man from Tokoroa added to a long list of bizarre choices with his performance following Wallabies training in Sydney before the team flew out for Auckland today.

Standing in front of a scrum of reporters and photographers, Cooper read out a 26-word statement: "All I want to say is I'm back, I'm fit and healthy and I am ready to go and I will see everybody at Eden Park," before placing an Australia Rugby Union microphone on the ground and walking off Leichhardt Oval.

If Cooper's intention was to limit the media attention before his return to Eden Park, a ground which for him holds many unhappy memories, he failed dismally. It was a sign that he is already feeling the pressure and, having shown his hand so early, he can expect things to get a lot worse - from the All Blacks, the New Zealand public, and the media.

It is understood that Cooper's statement - which lasted 13 seconds - and refusal to answer journalists' questions, came as a surprise to Australia's management, who would have been hoping for a controversy-free arrival into Auckland following the player's last entrance.

Almost 12 months ago he arrived for the World Cup to a storm following his apparent targeting of Richie McCaw in the just-completed Tri Nations. His actions included a knee to the prone All Blacks' captain's head for which Cooper was cited but cleared.

On the face of it he revelled in his Public Enemy No1 tag, but away from the spotlight he must have wondered whether he was doing the right thing in toughing it out rather than showing a little more humility.

It clearly affected him. His performance in the Wallabies' semifinal loss to the All Blacks was poor - although perhaps not helped by instructions to kick the ball at almost every opportunity - and the roasting from the Eden Park crowd was merciless.

That reception continued during Australia's next game a week later - the narrow victory over Wales for third place - and stopped only when he suffered a serious knee injury. Many in the crowd applauded him from the field, perhaps out of guilt more than anything, as if their name-calling had somehow contributed to his painful downfall.

There is no doubt a more sensible approach for Cooper on his return to New Zealand with Australia would have been to go through the motions at the press call, saying he was looking forward to the challenge, and taken refuge in all the other cliches players employ to survive the part of the job they like the least.

But he's never been one to do the obvious, has Quade, and now the circus is back in town. Welcome back, cobber.

- APNZ

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 28 Dec 2014 00:24:03 Processing Time: 345ms