Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Cooper keeps pressure on All Blacks

Quade Cooper

Australia's maverick fly-half Quade Cooper did little to quash his status as New Zealand's "public enemy number one" as he cranked up the pressure on the All Blacks ahead of Sunday's World Cup semi-final.

Cooper, who was born in New Zealand, has been subjected to a barrage of terrace abuse throughout Australia's campaign due to a long-running spat with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw. However, the 23-year-old insists the barracking has not been a distraction and said pointedly that New Zealand fans have greater things to worry about.

"They are supposed to have won this World Cup for the past three tournaments and this is no different," Cooper said. "A lot of pressure is on them to win this competition on home soil so I am sure they will be worried about how they are going."

He added: "These are the moments you play rugby for, an opportunity to play against the best team in the world in their back yard in a World Cup semi-final."

Rocky Elsom, the former Leinster flanker, waded in behind Cooper to drive home the Wallabies' message that all the pressure is on All Black shoulders.

"They're the number one-ranked team in the world and they're in a country where they expect them to win the World Cup. Regardless of what happens the public expect that," Elsom said. "You get a feeling around town that they won't tolerate anything less."

Cooper could have been lining up for the All Blacks this weekend had he taken up the option of returning to New Zealand as an 18-year-old.

"There was a time in my career where I had to decide whether I wanted to come play on this side of the Tasman," Cooper said.

"I had been living in Australia for such a long period of time, my whole family had moved over, I was enjoying my lifestyle.

"It was a very tough decision to want to move away from my family again and I was just starting to make a career with the Queensland Reds. I decided that that was the best fit for me."

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