Quade Cooper hopes he’s already paid the price for his Hong Kong cheap shot on Richie McCaw as he prepares for the toughest assignment of his rugby career on Saturday night.
The exciting Wallabies playmaker will finally run out for his first Test on New Zealand soil when Australia attempt to end a 25-year hoodoo at Eden Park.
The Waikato-born Cooper missed last year’s 20-10 loss in Christchurch due to suspension and sat the entire 80 minutes on the bench in 2009 when the Wallabies were outmuscled 33-6 in Wellington.
But he did play a key role in Hong Kong late last year, when James O’Connor scored in the last minute and then kicked a sideline conversion for a 26-24 triumph.
The emotion of the breakthrough win, and being the target of extra niggle in the rucks from McCaw, got the better of Cooper as he shoved the New Zealand skipper’s head behind the goal-line after O’Connor’s try.
McCaw and his team have not forgotten or forgiven the 23-year-old for the act of disrespect.
The veteran flanker made the most of his chance to pay Cooper back during the Super Rugby season but Cooper hoped the matter was now done and dusted.
“He’s already said ‘hello’ to me a few times this year in the Super 15 so there’s no real reason to reacquaint there,” he said.
“It’s out on the rugby field and there’s a lot of things that are going to go on and there’s 14 other blokes to worry about out on that field so I won’t be concentrating on one bloke.”
Cooper promised to stick to his seemingly-carefree attack-at-all-costs game in the Bledisloe pressure-cooker.
“That’s the philosophy of the game that I like to play and I’m not going to change that game just because we’re playing at Eden Park against the All Blacks,” he said.
“I’m going to go out there with the same mindset with a good group of guys around me.”
by Buford Balony