Sydney - Australian playmaker Quade Cooper will be sidelined for at least six months with knee surgery after collapsing in agony during the World Cup bronze playoff, rugby officials said Sunday.
Cooper, 23, limped from the ground after over-extending his right knee in the 22nd minute of Australia's third-place game against Wales in Auckland on Friday, ending a fraught tournament which saw him struggle at key moments.
The Australian Rugby Union said Cooper saw a surgeon in Brisbane on Sunday to "map out a recovery pathway" for the damage to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
"As a result of this consultation, the 23-year-old will next week undergo an MRI scan before having surgery to reconstruct the ACL, while also repairing his lateral ligament," the ARU said in a statement.
"The recovery timeline on the injury is expected to be a minimum of six months."
The news will come as a blow to Cooper's Super Rugby team, the Queensland Reds, ruling the mercurial flyhalf out of the start of the Super Rugby season.
Cooper was instrumental in the Reds' 18-13 win over the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final in July, and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans put a lot of faith in his abilities, despite a sometimes inconsistent performance at the World Cup.
He came under intense scrutiny and was regularly booed while playing in his native New Zealand, where he was cast as a villain for coming to blows with beloved All Blacks captain Richie McCaw ahead of the World Cup.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry blamed Cooper for his own unpopularity, saying: "Quade has brought a wee bit of that on himself. You've got to earn some respect and he lost some respect from previous actions."
But sporting greats rallied behind the injured star, with messages of support flooding in from cricket legend Shane Warne, former English ODI captain Adam Hollioake, boxer Anthony Mundine, and surfer Mick Fanning.
Former Wallabies Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri and Springboks scrumhalf Francois Hougaard also offered their support on social media site Twitter, where Cooper is a prolific user and has some 75 500 followers.
"New challenge will be overcoming the setback of injury. Things happen for a reason," Cooper tweeted.
"Thank you all for the support over the duration of the World Cup. Been a learning experience to say the least."