Please pick Quade Cooper for the Wallabies

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 10:40 20/08/2012
Quade Cooper
Photosport
WE'VE MISSED YOU: It's hard to know who's salivating more over the prospect of Quade Cooper playing for the Wallabies at Eden Park - the New Zealand public or the All Blacks?

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OPINION: It's hard to know who's salivating more over the prospect of Quade Cooper playing for the Wallabies at Eden Park - the New Zealand public or the All Blacks?

Either way the cocky Cooper is in for a hard time.

It looks like a recall is on the cards for the Tokoroa turncoat as the Wallabies look for something - make that someone - to ignite their sloppy game.

There were gasps across the Tasman when Cooper was left off the team sheet for the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney last week, with the more conservative Berrick Barnes handed the No 10 jersey.

Changes will be made in the wake of the error-strewn Wallabies effort in the 27-19 loss and there's plenty of talk in Australia that Cooper will be back in the mix.

That's if Robbie Deans is bold enough to throw Cooper into the lion's den again.

But don't bet against it, these are desperate times for the Wallabies. Desperate times too for Deans, whose career at the helm of the Wallabies might well be riding on this series.

The engravers are poised to write 'New Zealand' alongside '2012' on the Bledisloe Cup and they might as well start the job now.

It's hard to see these Wallabies turning around a hoodoo at Eden Park that dates back to 1986, let alone a 10-year drought with the massive piece of silverware.

And Cooper isn't the player to instantly change their fortunes.

He's a flawed genius at the best of times. And a nervous wreck at the worst of times, as he discovered at last year's World Cup with his massive implosion.

Of course, he got a helping hand with a New Zealand public baying for his blood where ever he went after his disgraceful antics against Richie McCaw in a couple of earlier Bledisloe Cup battles.

It didn't matter if the Wallabies were playing Italy, Ireland, Russia or the United States - Cooper copped a gob-full from crowds around the country. And the Kiwis loved watching his meltdown from week to week. They took particular pleasure in the semifinal.

It's hard to remember a confidence crisis as bad as that which inflicted Cooper at the World Cup - unless you think of his good mate Kurtley Beale in Sydney last week. The thought of two of them playing in Auckland really is juicy.

Departed All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry, not normally a man to single out players for criticism, made public his distaste for Cooper's antics against the All Blacks. And he also revealed they saw him as the weak link during their World Cup demolition.

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It's mystifying that a player can operate at No 10 in test rugby with such a poor defensive game. It's equally mystifying why he should be "hidden" away at fullback at times to cover that deficiency. But there was no hiding from the All Blacks kicking game that fateful night in Auckland where he was peppered with high balls and another weakness was exposed.

Goodness, it even got to the stage where his stable-mate Sonny Bill Williams got yellow-carded for thumping Cooper with a shoulder charge.

Things won't change much if Cooper does get the nod this week. His confidence can't be sky-high after being knocked back last week and he's endured a long medical comeback from his knee injury.

He'll be the butt of jokes and jeers, he'll have big All Blacks forwards running at the inside channel all night and should he care to seek a bit of solitude at the back now and then, "Quaking Quade" can be sure to be glaring into the Eden Park floodlights, trying to detect a rugby ball coming down with the sound of thundering hoofs in his ears as the black army approaches.

Welcome back cobber - we've missed you.

- Fairfax Media

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