Rugby World Cup 2011

Cooper won't change his game

2011-10-05 10:29
Quade Cooper (Getty Images)

Wellington - Either loved or lambasted for his all-or-nothing style of rugby, Australian playmaker Quade Cooper vowed not to go into his shell come Sunday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against South Africa.

Cooper, whose obvious skills and incredible flair are sometimes masked by shocking decisions or handling errors, is favourite to start at flyhalf against the reigning champions.

Asked on Wednesday which Quade Cooper would turn up at the Wellington Regional Stadium, the Reds flyhalf replied: "I'm going to turn up with a frame of mind to do my job for the Wallabies with 14 other blokes.

"If we part with any of our ability or confidence we have in what we do, I'm sure that will work as an advantage for the opposition.

"We don't want to go into our shells."

Cooper added he took South African talk of him being the main man to target as a "compliment".

"If everyone is looking to shut you down and pinpointing you as the focal point of the team, then you've got to take that as a compliment," he said.

"But you can't let that control your ego. Just because all the focus is on you doesn't mean that everyone is focusing on you. It could be a part of their tactics."

Cooper's opposite number will likely be Morné Steyn who, in marked contrast to his Australian rival, is an out-and-out goal kicker adept at controlling the very structured Springbok gameplan.

"It's an exciting backline," Steyn said of the Wallabies.

"Guys like Cooper and (Kurtley) Beale are exciting players and you don't know what to expect from them. We are looking forward to a great battle in the backs.

"Cooper's got a great kicking ability, runs well and has all the skills. Whatever he can do is helping them at the moment. Sometimes it will work for him and sometimes it will not."

Cooper said the Springboks also had flair in their backline thanks to the likes of Bryan Habana, Patrick Lambie and Francois Hougaard.

"If they can get the ball out wide, they've got guys with a lot of ability," he said, adding, however, that the battle would be won up front.

"Physicality is the first place you've got to start. They're a very big side, very passionate.

"If we can match them physically the game will be a very tough occasion but one that hopefully we can come out on the right end of."

Wallabies fullback Beale voiced his support for Cooper, often targeted as the scapegoat when Australia lose.

"I think he's done very well," said Beale.

"A lot of people are at him, for right or wrong reasons, but I think he's coping with the expectations."

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