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Bledisloe Cup: New Zealand v Australia, Wellington
Quade Cooper 'should harness the hate'
August 19, 2013

Michael Hooper has slammed New Zealand rugby fans for their continued booing of Wallabies team-mate Quade Cooper.

Cooper was booed by the Kiwi contingent in the crowd at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on Saturday, in echoes of Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand, and he likely faces a more hostile reception on New Zealand soil this weekend as All Blacks fans maintain the rage over 2010 and 2011 acts viewed as cheap shots against Richie McCaw.

Hooper, like New Zealand fullback Israel Dagg, believes the All Blacks supporters should move on, as McCaw has long since done. "I think it's quite unreasonable what the All Blacks supporters are doing to him," Hooper said on Monday. "He's a great player and a great guy so I think everyone who enjoys footy wants to see him do well. I think the booing's a bit below-the-belt sort of stuff. He deserves more than that as a player."

Cooper first earned Kiwis' ire when he shoved McCaw in the back of the head after the Wallabies scored the match-winning try in the 2010 Hong Kong Test. He was then cited, although later cleared, for kneeing McCaw in the head during a pre-World Cup Test in 2011. The New Zealand-born five-eighth was subsequently booed by Kiwi fans whenever he touched the ball during Rugby World Cup 2011, and the sledging appeared to take a toll as he had a mixed campaign.

Hooper has support in the All Blacks camp, with Dagg speaking out after Cooper again copped the boo treatment when he played for the Queensland Reds against the Crusaders in Christchurch earlier this year.

Hooper couldn't say whether the booing bothered Cooper, who played off the bench at ANZ Stadium on Saturday. But he said Cooper should harness the hate. "I can't comment for him, but personally something like that would spur you on so I think he's got it under control."

© AAP
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