Burdon: Let's boo the Cooper-baiting bogans

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 12:37 27/07/2013

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OPINION: Boo. Boo. Boo. Boo.

Bored yet? Then you obviously aren't a Canterbury rugby fan.

Seems the red-and-black crowd can't get enough, or just don't know when enough is enough. And for the record, enough is enough.

Sure, Quade Cooper doesn't come across as the most likeable of characters. He's mounted some sort of bizarre campaign against Richie McCaw. He fell out with Robbie Deans.

If his goal was to become the most despised man in Christchurch, mission accomplished. Gerry Brownlie probably owes him a Christmas card.

But at what point do we move on? At what point do we accept Cooper for what he is and just get on with the job?

It's not like Cooper is a particularly big threat to national safety, or even a particularly big threat on a football field.

The more disliked he becomes in New Zealand, and in Canterbury in particular, the worse he seems to perform when playing on this side of the Tasman.

Perhaps it's linked to the poor form an injury-affected Will Genia is displaying at the moment, maybe it's just that Cooper is not the second coming of Australian football that many of his supporters claim he is.

There seems to be a lot of reasons not to like Quade S (what does the S stand for, you might ask? Don't know, would be the answer) Cooper.

Auckland-born, Tokoroa-raised for starters. Then he became an Aussie. Stone the crows.

Dated Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice for a while, is managed by Khoder Nasser.

It's like he's asking for a fight.

And he got one in February when he made his professional boxing debut against Barry Dunnett, an insurance investigator specialising in car accidents.

Hands up if you were quietly rooting for Dunnett to give Cooper a whack, but it didn't happen.

In fact, Cooper emerged with a knockout victory which was less surprising, than disappointing.

Cooper has tickets on himself, but that's no crime for a professional athlete. If anything, it's the price of doing business.

We do like our sporting heroes to be humble, self-effacing types, but the truth is that, in the sporting world, the nice guys do tend to finish last. Anything else is an exception, although exceptions do happen.

Cooper has talent, no doubt, and new coach Ewen McKenzie will be hoping he can help provide the spark the Wallabies were missing against the British and Irish Lions.

For all his faults, Australian rugby, and the international game for that matter, is better for having him in it.

If nothing else, it breaks up the monotony. Can you imagine a New Zealand rugby player tweeting that he finds the All Blacks' environment "toxic"? So you might not love Cooper, you might loathe him, in fact.

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But booing the guy every time he touches the ball says more about those with their hands cupped around their mouths than it does about Cooper. It's childish, it's unnecessary. It speaks to some of the lesser elements of our game, and our society. It's embarrassing. The word boorish springs to mind.

Anyone who turns out in the middle of a Christchurch winter to support their team deserves some credit.

Rugby is finding it harder and harder to get people out of their lounges and into Super Rugby stadiums.

While the game needs the rugby bogans' wallets, it doesn't need their mindset. Unfortunately, the two can't be separated.

- Waikato

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