Why Eden Park is Quade Cooper's personal house of horrors
Eden Park is a graveyard for the Wallabies and it's also proven a house of horrors for their controversial first-five Quade Cooper.
The Auckland crowd has developed a love of dishing out unpleasantries for the Tokoroa-born Aussie No 10 and that trend will surely continue on Saturday if, as expected, he lines out against an All Blacks side hugely motivated to win and earn a world record 18th consecutive test victory at tier one level.
Consider Cooper's personal nightmares at a ground that has truly proven to be the All Blacks' Garden of Eden, not having lost to the Wallabies there since 1986.
QUADE'S HOUSE OF HORRORS - EDEN PARK
- Cooper has played three of his 10 Bledisloe Cup tests at Eden Park and lost all three.
- Cooper played three World Cup games at Eden Park in 2011, being part of the 15-6 humbling by Ireland and the semifinal demolition at the hands of the All Blacks. His only success at the ground game in the bronze medal win over Wales but he suffered serious personal disappointment.
- Cooper's first test appearance in Auckland came in August 2011 and he quickly discovered how tough an environment it is with the All Blacks' attack overpowering the Wallabies 30-14. The win, in a two-test series, was enough to retain the Bledisloe Cup.
- Cooper returned to confront the All Blacks at Eden Park two months later in the World Cup semifinal and there was plenty of feeling after his rough-house tactics on Richie McCaw in the drawn test in Brisbane squeezed in between. He was very much public enemy No 1 in the eyes of Kiwis. Cooper had a disastrous start with his kick-off going into touch – the crowd's boos turned into cheers at that. Under immediate pressure, the Wallabies conceded a fifth minute try and never recovered. Cooper was targeted by the New Zealand kickers as he drifted back into defence and his hands let him down. The game finished with Cooper being bundled into touch by Richard Kahui, a humbling ending for both the player and his team.
- Cooper's two neutral World Cup matches at Eden Park didn't go so well either. He had the playmaker's role for the pool match against Ireland but couldn't engineer anything as the Wallabies managed just two penalties in their shock loss. The crowd enjoyed more mirth at the expense of Cooper and quickly sided with the Irish as they sensed an upset. When Cooper played the bronze medal match against Wales, he made a promising start but was quickly forced off with a serious knee injury, his head hanging in disappointment as he left the field.
- A fit-again Cooper was guiding the Aussie backline at Eden Park again the following year. The crowd's long memories didn't desert them as they continued to taunt the controversial ex-pat. Cooper couldn't inspire any magic with the All Blacks humbling the Wallabies 22-0 and it was noticeable that Cooper was frequently moved out of first-five in defensive situations - a concession at his tackling frailties.
- Cooper flopped again at Eden Park last year when coach Michael Cheika surprisingly handed him the No 10 duties despite his previous struggles at the ground. Cooper was a time bomb waiting to go off and his brain explosion came just after halftime when he produced a high hit on Aaron Smith in a scoring situation. That saw referee Nigel Owens award the All Blacks a penalty try and an inevitable yellow card for Cooper. Not surprisingly, there was some serious attention from the crowd as he trudged off. The All Blacks scored two tries in his absence as they dished out at 41-13 humiliation.