Cooper will be at World Cup no matter what, says Cheika

Cooper has suffered numerous ignominies at the hands of his fellow New Zealanders, most notably during the 2011 World Cup semi-final at Eden Park where he had a poor game and was booed constantly by the fans.


“When he was selected I spoke to him and said ‘there’s nothing to prove here this is not some type of test for you, this is about you doing your job for the team’,” Cheika told reporters in Auckland on Friday.

“Those guys I’ve always spoken to them about their role going into this series and the World Cup as well. I’ve been quite open about the fact they’re coming — him and (Bernard)Foley.”

The Wallabies beat the All Blacks 27-19 last week in Sydney to secure the Rugby Championship title and give themselves the chance of snatching back the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy for the first time since they lost it in 2003.

The All Blacks, however, rarely string together two poor performances and have said all week how much the loss in Sydney would fuel them in their final match before the World Cup begins in England on Sept. 18.

Cooper’s selection, given his patchy history against the All Blacks and the importance of the match, has created debate on both sides of the Tasman, with the New Zealand Herald newspaper tracking down Cooper’s grandmother to discuss her feelings about the selection and the reception he receives from local fans.

Cheika, however, had no such qualms and shook off any extra focus around Cooper’s selection and simply believed the Queensland Reds pivot fitted into his plans going forward.

“Quade is enjoying the role of our 10 and the shape that we play and he’s getting more confidence in how that works because he hasn’t played a lot of footy this year. I just want him to enjoy his game,” Cheika said.

“Foley and him, our playmakers that have been rotating around, they’re centre stage. They’re important players. They’ve performed over the Super Rugby season or in years past and they fit into plans nicely.

“I don’t think this is the appropriate match to say ‘play good here and you’ll get in the World Cup’.

“That’s not worthwhile.

“I back my guys. I don’t fear failure. I’m not worried about that. I want the team to do its best and the cards will fall where they may.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)