All Blacks expect Wallaby Cooper to play
The All Blacks expect to face a committed and motivated Quade Cooper in the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland on Saturday.
Coach Steve Hansen, who was subtle in questioning Australian counterpart Robbie Deans’ decision to omit Cooper from the first Test in Sydney, was more blunt when summarising the Cooper threat on Monday.
He said criticism of the Queensland Reds’ No.10 for his nervous performance in last year’s World Cup semi-final, also at Eden Park, was unfair.
There was a perception that Cooper had choked when the All Blacks successfully targeted him in that Test.
“It’s a bit harsh to say the guy’s frozen,” Hansen told journalists.
“He’s a pretty talented player and he’s got some amazing abilities and skills and causes a lot of damage.
“He’s spoken a bit about how much it hurts not to be there so I’m sure if he gets selected, he’ll come out firing.”
Hansen said Cooper’s biggest weakness was a desire to constantly break a game open when he got the ball.
“If you overplay it, then you become a bit predictable.
“But his major strength is his major weakness, like all of us.”
Being more selective would only make him a greater threat if he linked with Reds’ halves partner Will Genia in Auckland, possibly shifting Berrick Barnes out a spot to inside centre.
Genia will captain Australia after flanker David Pocock was ruled out on Monday with a knee injury.
Hansen said the exit of players such as Pocock and Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis – who suffered a serious injury against Argentina in their opening Rugby Championship encounter – could impact heavily on a team.
He said the championship, following on the heels of Super Rugby, could become a war of attrition.
Emphasis needed to be placed on depth and monitoring players’ training workloads, he said.© AAP 2013
The Roar needs an editor! Tristan is off to tackle a new role with us over on Techly.com.au, which means we're looking for someone to fill his boots. Love sport, know digital publishing (yes, that does mean being a bit of computer guru) and keen to work with the team in Newcastle? If you're a proven superstar, or someone on the rise with a record to back it up, we want to hear from you. Apply now!
We're also looking for freelance writers who know tech, gadgets, games and trends inside and out to join us on this new adventure. Get in touch if you've got the goods.
The Roar is giving you the chance to win 1 of 19 prize packs to Australian Open 2014! Each lucky winner will receive four evening tickets to Rod Laver Arena, plus access to 3 hours in the Heineken VIP Bar. Enter here.