Cooper barometer to success - Mowen
Australia captain Ben Mowen has led the tributes to Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper after his masterclass helped craft a ninth successive victory over Wales.
Cooper pulled the strings for a fired-up Australian side, celebrating his 50th cap in style as the Wallabies made it five years unbeaten at Wales' expense with a 30-26 win.
"I thought Quade was outstanding in his 50th game, but in saying that the guys either side of him really helped," Mowen said.
"That nine-10-12 channel really directed the way we wanted, but there were also a couple of moments of individual skill.
"Not many people can execute that in touch-footy in the back-yard, let alone at the Millennium Stadium in those sort of circumstances.
"You can't say enough about what sort of bloke Quade is and what contribution he's made.
"He has turned into an outstanding leader, and when he is performing, generally the team is performing very well. That shows a lot about the respect he carries in the group."
After losing their opening European tour game to England at Twickenham, Australia will head home following successive triumphs against Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which represents signs of promising work in progress under new coach Ewen McKenzie.
"We played so well in attack at periods in that game, but a side like the Welsh are always going to come back and have points in them," Mowen added.
"But I thought the resilience we had in the game, and to close that game out was outstanding. It just says a lot about the resilience of the group.
"We've obviously had a lot of ups and downs this year, but from where we were to where we are has been a really important step.
"Upon reflection, there will be happiness in the way we are going. We firmly believe we can get to the point we need to be come the (2015) World Cup."
During a year when Australia suffered a Test series defeat against the British and Irish Lions before struggling for large parts of the Rugby Championship, they have now illustrated consistent form under McKenzie, who succeeded Robbie Deans, post-Lions.
"We were keen to express ourselves against Wales," McKenzie said.
"You get judged on the scoreboard in the end, so it was important to win it, but win or lose I felt we made progress.
"The Wallabies don't play for another seven months now, so hopefully the fans will look forward to what's happening next year rather than spending too much time looking at the past.
"We wanted to play our way, and I thought we did. We went into the game confident, trained really well and I feel we've got a real confidence in the style of football we are trying to play.
"We want to express ourselves as a team.
"A lot of people say you can't play all the rugby, it's easier to play field position and keep it simple. We are trying to make sure that's in our back pocket if we have to (use it) but it's the variety between the two that's important.
"People are always going to say 'wait until you play the All Blacks, wait until you play the Springboks.' and for sure we've got to do better on that side of things. But the last time we played the All Blacks we did all right. We didn't win, but we were close.
"We just have to keep at it. We don't want to be the finished article right now. We've improved, we're getting more consistent."