Give Campo-like Quade a break: McKenzie - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Give Campo-like Quade a break: McKenzie

By Jim Morton and Darren Walton 15/09/2011 07:17:28 PM Comments (0)

Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie has taken issue with his former Wallabies captain, Nick Farr-Jones, by praising Quade Cooper as a Campese-like figure generating massive interest in rugby.

While Farr-Jones labelled the controversial Cooper a "boofhead", who was endangering the Wallabies' World Cup hopes, McKenzie defended his Reds five-eighth as the tournament's polarising enigma.

The successful Super Rugby coach said it was only natural fans and the media gravitated towards the 23-year-old playmaker, and disagreed New Zealand's "public enemy No.1" should change his stripes.

"I don't see it as a concerning thing," McKenzie told AAP.

"He intrigues people, which is the best way to put it.

"People are trying to find faults because he's an enigma.

"I came through the Campese era and people liked to tear him down but he too had the X-factor and, in the amateur days, he brought a lot of people through the gates to watch him play."

The Waikato-raised Cooper on Thursday shrugged off Farr-Jones' criticism and his public enemy tag, due to his running battle with All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, saying there was "a lot of love" for him in New Zealand.

McKenzie, who played tight-head prop for most of Farr-Jones' successful rein as Australian captain, was not surprised by the support, especially considering his rarely-seen work in the community.

"I remember a little old lady sitting in the rain when (the Reds) played in Hamilton this year," he said. "She lived 90 miles away and said she'd had never been to a game of rugby in her life but she wanted to see Quade Cooper play in the flesh.

"She was the first to arrive with two teenage girls and all three were there for the same reason - and this was in New Zealand, not Australia.

"You don't get 52,000 people coming to Suncorp Stadium three times this season if there's not something to watch.

"There's a lot of focus on one or two isolated incidents (with McCaw) ... and they have been adjudicated on already."

Cooper was cleared by a SANZAR judicial hearing for kneeing McCaw in the August 27 Tri Nations decider, 10 months after he shoved the All Blacks flanker in the head after a match-deciding try in Hong Kong.

"I'm pretty sure, if by chance we end up playing together on October 23, it might just come back and bite him on the arse," Farr-Jones said on New Zealand radio.

Cooper refused to bite when asked about Farr-Jones' comments at Australia's team announcement for Saturday's clash with Ireland.

"I just looked at it in a positive manner and I just look forward to the game that we have this weekend," he said.

"Nick's already said that we'll be in the final against the All Blacks. So, mate, from his eyes, we're a lot better than what we are.

"We've got a game this weekend which we've got to focus on. (We need to) get through this game and another two pool games against the USA and Russia.

"So there's a lot to go before we can even think about that."

While Farr-Jones said Wallabies coach Robbie Deans or captain James Horwill should tell Cooper to "pull his head in", Deans refused to buy into the furore.

"I don't have any thoughts on the matter, to be fair," he said.

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