Richie McCaw is no stranger to being dazed by maverick Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper but the All Blacks captain was still mystified when asked the fathom the latest outburst by Australian rugby's rogue element.
Cooper's scathing attack on the Wallabies set-up - a "toxic environment" incompatible with his expressive style of play - jeopardises the New Zealand-born first five-eighth's future selection under Robbie Deans.
His attack on the Australian Rugby Union hierarchy began on twitter last weekend; Cooper then repeated his accusations in mainstream media, heightening speculation he will attempt to follow close friend Sonny Bill Williams to the NRL, venture offshore or limit himself to Super Rugby with his beloved Reds.
McCaw shrugged when asked about Cooper's antics, a player reviled in New Zealand because of his on-running battle with one of the country's revered sporting figures since they traded blows during the Hong Kong Bledisloe Cup test in 2010.
He hadn't followed the spat intently but was surprised at the scale of Cooper's criticism.
"I can't understand someone going on like that, that's just the way it is I suppose," McCaw said.
Cooper infuriated McCaw, his teammates, and New Zealand's rugby public, when their feud escalated during the Wallabies Tri-Nations-clinching victory in Brisbane last year.
He was exonerated by a SANZAR judicial hearing despite kneeing McCaw in the head, but Kiwis were not as forgiving and made Cooper's life a misery during the World Cup until he suffered a serious injury.
Asked if Cooper's criticism was indicative of the adopted Australian's character, McCaw said: "It seems to be doesn't it? I don't really the guy, who knows?"
McCaw's focus was obviously on the All Blacks potentially clinching the inaugural Rugby Championship by beating Argentina tomorrow at La Plata but he thought despite Cooper's ructions, the Wallabies would still be primed for a strong performance in the preceding game against the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld.
"Sometimes peripheral stuff, you just can't worry about it. I'm sure that's what Robbie will be emphasising," he said.
"They'll be in Pretoria and be pretty tight about getting the job done," McCaw said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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