Cooper 'up' for tough All Blacks task - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cooper 'up' for tough All Blacks task

Jim Morton 02/08/2011 05:17:06 PM Comments (0)

Quade Cooper hopes he's already paid the price for his Hong Kong cheap shot on Richie McCaw as he prepares for the toughest assignment of his burgeoning rugby career on Saturday night.

The exciting Wallabies playmaker will finally runout for his first Test on New Zealand soil when Australia attempts to end a 25-year hoodoo at Eden Park.

The Waikato-born Cooper missed last year's 20-10 loss in Christchurch due to suspension and sat the entire 80 minutes on the bench in 2009 when the Wallabies were outmuscled 33-6 in Wellington.

The 25-Test five-eighth has taken on the All Blacks twice before with Australia splitting the games.

In Sydney last September the Wallabies went down 23-22 after leading for much of the match while Cooper played a key role in Hong Kong the following month when James O'Connor scored in the last minute and then kicked a sideline conversion for a 26-24 triumph.

The emotion of the breakthrough win, and being the target of extra niggle in the rucks from McCaw, got the better of Cooper as he shoved the New Zealand skipper's head behind the goal-line after O'Connor's try.

McCaw and his team have not forgotten or forgiven the 23-year-old for the act of disrespect.

The veteran flanker made the most of his chance to pay Cooper back during the Super Rugby season, flattening the elusive No.10 at Suncorp Stadium on May 29 when the Crusaders played Queensland.

Cooper had the last laugh that day with a final-minute penalty goal for a 17-16 Reds win, while Queensland also prevailed over McCaw's team 18-13 four weeks ago in the final.

Preparing on the Gold Coast on Tuesday, Cooper hoped the matter was now done and dusted but was ready for more attention.

"He's already said 'hello' to me a few times this year in the Super 15 so there's no real reason to reacquaint there," he said.

"It's out on the rugby field and there's a lot of things that are going to go on and there's 14 other blokes to worry about out on that field so I won't be concentrating on one bloke."

Cooper played down the significance of the Wallabies' 2011 litmus test on their World Cup hopes as well as the size of the assignment compared to other hurdles in his career.

But apart from having never played the All Blacks in New Zealand, where they have won the last 11 trans-Tasman clashes, Cooper also has next to no experience at Eden Park.

It's limited to coming off the bench for the Eddie Jones-coached Reds as an 18-year-old in 2007 when they were smashed by the Blues 38-13 in Auckland.

But he promised to stick to his seemingly-carefree attack-at-all-costs game in the Bledisloe pressure-cooker.

"That's the philosophy of the game that I like to play and I'm not going to change that game just because we're playing at Eden Park against the All Blacks," he said.

"I'm going to go out there with the same mindset with a good group of guys around me."

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