Cooper looking to take centre stage - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cooper looking to take centre stage

By Darren Walton 19/11/2009 08:13:44 AM Comments (0)

Not content with a bit-part role, Quade Cooper wants to take centre stage for the Wallabies on a more permanent basis.

Cooper has been a revelation filling Berrick Barnes' inside centre position since Australia's vice-captain suffered a tour-ending ankle injury in Tokyo.

The 21-year-old got his big break following a man-of-the-match effort for the Wallabies's midweek team against Gloucester and has kicked on in Australia's Tests against England and Ireland.

"You've got to make the most of any game you get and make any selection decisions tough," Cooper said.

"We want to be the best side as the Wallabies. So to be the best side, we've got to put pressure on each other in positions and make it really hard for the coaches to pick a side.

"If everyone offers something, we'll definitely improve as a side."

Like Barnes, Cooper gives the Wallabies a right-foot, left-foot midfield kicking option alongside five-eighth Matt Giteau and also regularly slots into flyhalf to ease the pressure on Australia's chief playmaker.

"It opens up so much having a right-foot and a left-foot kicker," Cooper said.

"I know defending against it, it's very hard to cover every area of the field unless you put three people back there.

"And it just opens up space for running, so if we can just keep doing that and keep kicking well, that will be a big advantage for us."

Cooper admits Australia's kicking was below par in the first half at Croke Park last Saturday, with too many overcooked punts being swallowed up as easy marks by Ireland's back three in their 22.

When they started grubbering behind the defence or kicking more into space, the Wallabies were able to control play for the half hour after the break.

"There's always going to improvements for us as individual kickers," Cooper said.

"Our goal was to try and keep them down in their half and try and keep it down as far as we could.

"If we didn't have the opportunity to kick it out, then kick it as long as possible. Then get our kick-chase down there and put a lot of pressure on them."

Showing increasing maturity, Cooper has looked at ease whenever he's moved into the first-receiver role.

He says the alternation with Giteau is very much pre-planned.

"At training, we go out and sort it all out there so when we go out on the field there's not too much discussion needed," Cooper said.

"When we analyse the team we're playing against, we find out where we think it will best suit having left and right kickers as well.

"Then we've just got to get there and do the job. As long as we go into the games knowing where we've got to be and what we've got to do, that's the clarity that we need."

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