Cooper aims to ruin Italian hopes again - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cooper aims to ruin Italian hopes again

By Jim Morton 19/06/2009 03:48:17 PM Comments (0)

Quade Cooper produced the Test debut of dreams seven months ago.

Pitch-forked into action off the bench in Padova last November against a spirited Italian outfit, the rookie beat three defenders to score a jinking, match-winning try late in the game to break a 20-all deadlock.

But he'll enter his first run-on Test on Saturday night, also against the Azzurri, with the excitement of his initial appearance dimmed after another young gun raised the bar to another level in Canberra last weekend.

The highly-skilled Cooper admits he's got "a very high benchmark" to attain after teenage fullback James O'Connor outdid him by scoring a hat-trick in his run-on debut for a 31-8 triumph.

The 21-year-old inside centre also said O'Connor, who ran no more than a total of 10m for his three tries, hadn't missed the chance to rib a few teammates.

"Definitely, he's a bit cheeky," Cooper said of the 18-year-old, who has overcome stomach cramps to play at Etihad Stadium.

"He scores three tries in his run-on debut, that's a bit tinny, so hopefully there's a lot more tries scored this weekend from a lot of the other guys and share it around a bit.

"But obviously we will have to work hard. Italy is a very strong and physical side and won't be pushovers."

Cooper, criticised heavily by Test great Andrew Slack during an inconsistent Super 14, will certainly be tested in defence after slipping off a number of tackles for the Reds.

Lining up outside Queensland teammate Berrick Barnes, Cooper was surprised to receive his starting chance at No.12 with Deans making a host of changes to give fringe players an opportunity to impress.

But rather than try to challenge O'Connor for try-scoring headlines, he wants to produce the sort of strong all-round performance that helped the Wallabies to a 16-11 upset of a star-studded Barbarians side in London at the end of last year's spring tour.

Cooper started at five-eighth in the rugged friendly with Adam Ashley-Cooper and Ryan Cross in the centres and O'Connor at fullback.

He rates it his best moment in the game - even better than his dream debut.

"To score a try on your debut is a very special moment of your life but that game against the Barbarians in Wembley was a highlight," said Cooper.

"To play a quality side like that and push through and win was a whole lot more special than to score a one-off try."

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