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RUGBY UNION

Australia’s Hooper says Cooper can silence New Zealand boo-boys

Teammate Hooper expects taunts if Cooper plays Bledisloe Cup game two

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 August, 2013, 4:37am
 

Australia flyhalf Quade Cooper will silence the "unreasonable" jeering from All Blacks fans in the country of his birth, insists Wallabies teammate Michael Hooper.

Cooper was controversially benched for the Wallabies' opening loss to New Zealand in the Rugby Championship, with new coach Ewen McKenzie handing Matt Toomua the number 10 shirt.

Although Toomua had a solid test debut in the stinging 47-29 defeat, some Australian pundits have called on McKenzie to reinstall the mercurial Cooper at flyhalf for Saturday's return match in Wellington.

Regardless of where he starts, Cooper can expect another frosty reception from All Blacks fans, who have never forgiven the Tokoroa-born 25-year-old for alleged "cheap shots" at skipper Richie McCaw in previous matches.

"I think it's something Quade's dealt with quite well because I think it's quite unreasonable what the All Blacks supporters are doing to him," flanker Hooper said in Melbourne yesterday.

"He's a great player and a really good guy. I think everyone who enjoys footy wants to see him do well and I think the boo-ing is a bit below the belt sort of stuff.

"He deserves more than that as a player and I think he's got more to bring. With time on the field and the sort of performances he can put on there, that'll change and the boo-ing will go because people want to see him play.

"[A reception] like that would spur you on to prove them wrong, so I think he's got it under control."

Having never played his best rugby against New Zealand, Cooper came on for the last 18 minutes in Sydney and struggled to make an impression with the game already out of reach.

He was not alone, however, with a number of his backline teammates failing to breach the All Blacks line while also making costly defensive errors.

The loss ensured Australia slumped to fourth in the world in new rankings, with England leapfrogging them into third.

Defeat in Wellington would see the Wallabies surrender the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman Sea supremacy, for an 11th straight year.

Hooper, his team's best in Sydney, agreed the world champions had a psychological hold over Australia.

"They've held the [Bledisloe] Cup for the last 10 years so there's definitely a bit of that," Hooper said of the mental edge.

"But in saying that they'd be nervous about losing it and we really want it.

"Obviously it was the first game for a few people and a few things like that, and [with] new combinations you're going to have those sort of teething errors."

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