Cooper to be in crosshairs against Waratahs
February 22, 2013
Quade Cooper is no stranger to pressure and the clash against the Waratahs promises plenty. © Getty Images
Quade Cooper doesn't believe he'll be targeted any more than usual on Saturday night when he comes up against a host of Wallabies teammates he annoyed last year. Five months on from his controversial attack on the Wallabies culture, labelling the team environment "toxic", the Queensland playmaker knows he'll have a big target on his back in the Suncorp Stadium clash with the NSW Waratahs.
The Waratahs team is stacked with Australian squad members from the time and many were livid with his comments, which subsequently cost him a $40,000 fine.
Retired Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe, the captain at the time, believes time and good deeds can heal the wounds, and Cooper appears to have started back on the right track. The 38-Test five-eighth, who must unseat good friend Kurtley Beale to win back the Wallabies' No.10 jersey for the British and Irish Lions series, didn't expect the Waratahs' Test stars to be gunning any harder at him.
"Whenever you are out on the field everyone is coming to get you - especially when you are wearing the 10 jersey," Cooper said. "Nothing changes there. As in any other sport, the person in the driver's seat is always targeted the most."
Cooper has met with Test coach Robbie Deans to rebuild bridges and was also included in the Wallabies' logistics camp last month but wasn't sure if he'd been forgiven or the slate had been wiped clean.
"It depends whose eyes you're looking through. There's obviously going to be people who are still upset with some of the things that went on," Cooper added. "But that's the way I felt at the time and whether it was right or wrong, that's how I felt and I felt it was the right time to speak up."
"I feel like I'm past that from my point of view and I'm working hard at getting back to where I was," Cooper added. "You can have great relationships with people and have everything go your way but you have to produce the performances to get picked."
Greg Growden and Russell Barwick preview this weekend's Super Rugby and Six Nations action.
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'