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Rugby World Cup 2011
Cooper happy to play the villain
ESPNscrum Staff
September 7, 2011
Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper comes under the full glare of the media, Australia press conference, Rugby World Cup 2011, Crowne Plaza hotel, Auckland, New Zealand, September 7, 2011
Quade Cooper is the focus of much media attention in the land of his birth © Getty Images
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Wallabies starlet Quade Cooper has revealed that not only does he not mind being "public enemy No.1" in New Zealand, he actually enjoys it.

The Reds fly-half was born in Waikato but is an Australian international, which, perhaps on its own, would be enough to draw the contempt of the New Zealand public. However, Cooper's unpopularity primarily stems from the fact that he has twice 'clashed' with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

In last year's Bledisloe Cup clash between the Wallabies and the All Blacks in Tokyo, Cooper appeared to shove McCaw out of the way after James O'Connor's game-winning try, while the mercurial fly-half was also accused of kneeing the Kiwi flanker during last month's Tri-Nations meeting in Brisbane.

Consequently, Cooper is unlikely to be warmly received wherever he plays in New Zealand during the World Cup but that is not something he is losing any sleep over.

"I don't mind being public enemy No. 1. It's going to come with the territory," he said. "I actually enjoy it. I get a buzz all the time. Reading my Twitter there is a lot of guys who have their own opinions, some not necessarily nice. I like reading through them and getting back to most of them.

"Most New Zealanders hate the Wallabies, but there is a lot out there that respect that we play as well. We've a lot of respect for the All Black public and the All Black jersey as well for what they've done and the history they have. At the same time, we're here to win a competition we're not here to make friends."

However, Cooper rubbished rumours of a feud with McCaw. "From my point of view, there's not. It's just a matter of he's wearing a different jersey. From a personal point of view, I don't know the bloke. I haven't had much to do with him off the field."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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