Critics can’t faze Cooper

One of the likely stars of the World Cup and the next Lions tour says he won't be losing any sleep despite being tagged 'public enemy number one' by the New Zealand rugby public. [more]

Critics can’t faze Cooper

One of the likely stars of the World Cup and the next Lions tour says he won’t be losing any sleep despite being tagged ‘public enemy number one’ by the New Zealand rugby public.

Australian playmaker Quade Cooper has taken the world game by storm over the past two seasons, with his attacking instincts and free-flowing approach winning him plenty of plaudits.

Cooper guided the Wallabies to Tri Nations glory and the Reds to Super 15 success this summer but he continues to receive headlines for different reasons in New Zealand.

The 23-year-old’s heated confrontations with All Black skipper Richie McCaw have made him an unpopular figure across the Tasman Sea, while the fact that he was born in New Zealand and is now hoping to deny the Kiwis a world crown hasn’t gone unnoticed either.

Cooper came in for severe criticism after pushing McCaw’s head while celebrating the winning try in the Hong Kong clash between the two teams in 2010 and his reputation as a trouble maker was enhanced when he was sited for kneeing McCaw during the Tri Nations clash in Brisbane last month.

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But the man himself is unfazed by the negative attention and isn’t interested in further stoking the fires, instead insisting that he respects both McCaw and the All Blacks ahead of the start of the World Cup.

"It doesn't bother me at all," said Cooper.

"I don't mind being public enemy number one and I don't mind being the number one fan here so it's going to come with the territory.

"From a personal point of view I don't know the bloke (McCaw). I haven't had much to do with him off the field but I know that when he's out on the field he plays his heart out, he wears his heart on his sleeve and he does a great job of leading the All Blacks. It's just a matter that he's wearing a different jersey and looking to dominate us as well.

"Most New Zealanders hate the Wallabies but there are a lot out there who respect the way that we play as well.

"We have a lot of respect for the All Black public and the All Black jersey for what they have done and the history that they have.

"At the same time we're here to win a competition, we're not here to make friends or make enemies. It's all about playing rugby and enjoying it at the same time."

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