Cooper on road to redemption
Perth - Australian coach Robbie Deans has heralded the rehabilitation of once-troubled Quade Cooper after the flyhalf's man-of-the-match performance inspired the Wallabies' 27-17 win over England on Saturday.
Deans said Cooper, who over the weekend agreed to remain with the Queensland Reds for another two years in Super rugby, had come through the "school of hard knocks" on and off the field and was well on the road to rugby redemption.
The 22-year-old, who is due in court next month on a burglary charge from late last year, ran in a try in each half at the Subiaco Oval and tormented the English with his creative and often unpredictable play in his 13th international.
"Quade is Quade - he is unique," Deans said.
"He is very gifted and talented - he is starting to build a bit of toughness as well and Test match rugby is about toughness, it is not about talent.
"He has been through an experience off the field which has obviously hardened his resolve and he is really valuing what he has got."
Deans said Cooper, the driving force behind the Reds' unexpected surge up the Super 14 ladder this year, had made the leap from promising individual to seasoned team player in a short time by learning from his mistakes.
"The school of hard knocks essentially," Deans said when asked how Cooper had turned his career around.
"Playing for the Reds they had a tough year last year and Quade was part of that.
"They overplayed it at times, but when you see things, they like to have a go and you can't fault that.
Deans said the Wallabies would again be without props Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander in Saturday's return clash with the English at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.
With nine first-choice players missing from his side on Saturday, Deans wouldn't be drawn on how many injured players may be available to return in Sydney.
However, hooker Tatafa Polota-Nau was named for the Australian Barbarians for Tuesday's clash with England in Gosford and is sure to be looked at to bolster a front row that had just two Test caps heading into Saturday's game.
England dominated the Wallabies at the scrums and as a result picked up two penalty tries.
The Wallabies could also be boosted by the return of backs Matt Giteau, Will Genia and Adam Ashley-Cooper after injuries.