Cooper savouring World Cup experience
October 5, 2011
Quade Cooper might be public enemy No.1 but he's enjoying himself in New Zealand © Getty Images
Australia's Rugby World Cup campaign has not exactly gone to plan so far but playmaker Quade Cooper is enjoying his time in New Zealand nonetheless.
The Wallabies suffered a shock defeat to Ireland in their second tournament outing, a defeat which means that in order to get to the final they must go through South Africa, whom they face in Wellington on Sunday, and then, most likely, the All Blacks the following weekend.
In addition, the Aussies have also been rocked by a spate of injuries to key personnel, with Wycliff Palu and Drew Mitchell already having had to go home.
Cooper, meanwhile, has had the added burden of being public enemy No.1 in New Zealand on account of his alleged feud with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and the fact that he was born in Tokoroa.
However, in spite of all of this, Cooper insists that he feels blessed to be involved in the game's showpiece event.
"It's been an experience, to say the least," the Reds ace said. "It's obviously had its moments, but this is a competition that comes around once every four years so you've got to make the most of it and soak it up.
"I was sitting on the bus on the way home from training yesterday and I was just having a gaze out the window and thinking how privileged I am.
"Despite what anyone says, or what any person has as an opinion, I'm in a privileged position to be sitting on the bus as part of the Wallabies, as part of the World Cup."
Ahead of Sunday's all-southern hemisphere affair, the Springboks have spoken at length of their need to nullify the threat posed by Cooper, who is arguably the most unpredictable and innovative fly-half in world rugby. The man himself is flattered by such talk and is looking forward to the challenge of dealing with the unwanted attention.
"If everyone is looking to shut you down and pinpointing you as the focal point of the team, then you've got to take that as a compliment," he said. "But you can't let that control your ego. Just because all the focus is on you doesn't mean that everyone is focusing on you. It could be a part of their tactics.
"Being in a World Cup shows you how far you're willing to push your body - how far mentally and physically. Being in a World Cup quarter-final is definitely going to push your ability physically, but you'll get to test yourself mentally as well."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape