/ Rugby

Cooper happy at heart of Wallaby cause

Updated: Wednesday, 07 Sep 2011 08:48

Quade Cooper - "It's basically the quarterback of the team and you get to direct and call the shots, but a lot falls on your shoulders."
Quade Cooper - "It's basically the quarterback of the team and you get to direct and call the shots, but a lot falls on your shoulders."

Quade Cooper is not feeling the pressure of being Australia's chief playmaker at the World Cup.

A certainty to start in the number 10 shirt, Cooper will occupy the most creative position on the field - fly-half - and the expectation upon him is huge.

Added to the fact that he is the Wallabies' goalkicker, it could be easy for the 23-year-old to buckle under the weight of the pressure on him.

But the New Zealand-born playmaker insists he relishes it.

"I love it - that's why I love wearing the number 10 jersey," he said.

"It's basically the quarterback of the team and you get to direct and call the shots, but a lot falls on your shoulders.

"If the team doesn't do well you're going to cop it. If the team goes well then you're most likely to get the applause for it."

Cooper's decision to choose Australia over the country of his birth means he has rarely been out of the headlines as it is, especially after once admitting he was looking forward to filling the role of public enemy in his home country.

He has hardly hidden from the abuse either, with a shove in the back of Kiwi captain Richie McCaw during the recent Tri Nations series adding to the sideshow.

Cooper, though, insists there is no real animosity - at least on his part.

"I don't know. You'd have to ask him. From my point of view there's not," Cooper said.

"It's just a matter of he's wearing a different jersey. I've got 14 other blokes on the field who have my back. He's got 14 other blokes on his team that are really looking to dominate us as well.

"I don't know the bloke. I haven't had much to do with him off the field but I know that when he's out on the field he plays his heart out, wears his heart on his sleeve and does a great job of leading the All Blacks around the park."

Both New Zealand and Australia are looking to end long World Cup droughts, with the host nation having gone 24 years and Australia 12 without lifting the trophy - a long time for both.

With that in mind, Cooper says that rivalry has to be put aside for the good of each squad's chances of winning.

He added: "Most New Zealanders hate the Wallabies, but there's a lot out there that respect the way that we play as well. We have a lot of respect for the All Black public and the All Black jersey.

"At the same time we're here to win a competition. We're not here to make friends or make enemies - it's all about playing rugby and enjoying it at the same time."

Until the prospect of the two meeting in any possible final becomes real, Australia's priority is their opening match against Italy on Sunday.

"The Italians are going to throw everything at us. It's the opening game so I'm sure they'll want to start off with a win, as do we," Cooper said.

"They're a physical team and every time we've played them, the games have been relatively close because they do fight very hard and they never give up."

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