NZ fans should lay off Quade Cooper - Jane
Maybe it's time for New Zealand fans to stop being so heavy with Quade Cooper says Cory Jane.
Kiwi-born Cooper was jeered throughout last year's Rugby World Cup and now All Blacks right wing Jane wonders if the Wallabies playmaker, who has been named to start at Eden Park tomorrow night, has served his time.
"Yeah, I think sometimes the crowd probably need to let it be," Jane said. Although he noted Cooper had made a "rod for his own back" by niggling Richie McCaw in recent years, he questioned whether he might now earn some respite from his more vigorous hecklers.
"Whatever is done is done," Jane said. "Obviously if players give a bit more niggle and get caught on camera you can give it back to them. But if nothing has happened and you go out there to play some code, enough is enough, I guess.
"You put in a bit of niggle, everyone does it - it's a bit of fun. It is not as though he has absolutely given Richie a hiding or stuff like that."
It is no secret the All Blacks used Cooper's antics with skipper McCaw to motivate them before their world cup semifinal, but a number of offshore fans were less than impressed by the way some supporters continually gave the Aussie first five-eighth the raspberry during the tournament.
Jane said he didn't know Cooper well but harboured no ill-will towards him. "I have only talked to him a few times and on Twitter and that. But he's a good man and most guys are off the field.
"It obviously makes it a little bit tough because you don't like each other on the field but when you get off it you chat away and have fun."
All Blacks No 8 Kieran Read, for one, is promising to make Cooper's return to Eden Park an eventful one.
"Yeah, you want to be running at the smaller guys on the park," Read said when asked whether he would seek confrontation with Cooper's tackling technique.
"Whoever is at 10 . . . you [want to] take them out of the game and get some buildup in their bodies so they are a bit sore in attack. It is a good way of getting into them."
In set-play Cooper is often pushed to fullback to shelter him from tackling but he can still provide a body to be rammed in the line if quick turnover ball is secured by opponents.
To launch his weapons - his unpredictable sidesteps, outrageous passes and desire to attack from seemingly hopeless situations - Cooper requires his confidence to be high. Forcing him to second-guess himself because of self-doubt will be a priority for the All Blacks.
Despite triumphing 27-19 in Sydney, the uber-chilled Jane was far from relaxed by the quality of that error-ridden performance.
Making improvements at Eden Park, he noted, would be a mandatory requirement to secure the Bledisloe Cup.
He only needed to cast his mind back to the world cup semifinal, which the All Blacks won 20-6, to recollect one of the most clinical performances in recent years.
"In that game it felt like we beat them in every aspect," Jane said.
"It was kind of like, whatever they threw at us we had an answer for it. It was a pretty cool game to be involved in, I have not been in too many games where it felt like that afterwards."
Meanwhile, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen only offered a short, sharp response when told former coach Graham Henry had given the opposition some motivation material by predicting the Wallabies would get walloped tomorrow night.
"Yeah, I read that," Hansen said. "Thanks Ted."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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