Be­ing good big brother is Quade’s mo­ti­va­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

WHEN Aus­tralia fly­half Quade Cooper runs out as the Wal­laby vice-cap­tain against Eng­land at Twick­en­ham to­day, the knowl­edge that he is an ex­am­ple to his younger brothers will, he says, help him in his new rugby lead­er­ship role.

Cooper was in Test ex­ile for nearly a year af­ter ac­cus­ing for­mer Aus­tralia coach Rob­bie Deans of cre­at­ing a “toxic” en­vi­ron­ment.

But the New Zealan­der’s de­par­ture fol­low­ing the 2- 1 se­ries loss to the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons in July paved the way for his re­place­ment by for­mer Wal­laby prop Ewen McKen­zie, pre­vi­ously Cooper’s coach at Queens­land.

And now Cooper is de­ter­mined to re­pay the faith of his rugby “par­ent”.

“If I draw the com­par­i­son, I have two lit­tle brothers, two lit­tle sis­ters and one older sis­ter,” the 25-year-old Cooper said.

“And my two lit­tle brothers mas­sively look up to me, not only as a per­son but as a rugby player be­cause they love rugby and their dream is to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia and Queens­land pro­fes­sion­ally.

“When you think about how much re­spect they have for you and how much they look up to ev­ery­thing you are do­ing in your life, you want to, and need to set a good ex­am­ple for them.

“When you turn that into a team en­vi­ron­ment, your team­mates are like your brothers. The coaches… and staff are like your older brothers or par­ents so you have to set the right ex­am­ple for your team­mates on and off the field.”

Eng­land’s Youngs brothers, scrumhalf Ben and hooker Tom, have savoured the ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing Test rugby to­gether.

It’s some­thing Cooper might strug­gle to match be­cause his younger brothers, Reuben and Moses, aged 14 and 10 re­spec­tively, are both also fly­halves.

“They’re both re­ally good and both play 10 so I will have to watch my po­si­tion,” joked Cooper.

Even be­fore he be­came Aus­tralia coach, McKen­zie had shown his faith in New Zealand­born Cooper by pick­ing him for the Reds and, more re­cently, hav­ing him cap­tain Queens­land in their tour match against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons.

“It’s been a long four-and­half-year pe­riod where I’ve got to know him as a per­son and as a coach,” said Cooper. “He has al­ways of­fered sup­port and al­ways spo­ken to me on the level of mu­tual re­spect.

“The coach has re­layed that to me so you of­ten know you can con­fide in him, and if you have made a mis­take, you know there’s a way you can work to rec­tify that.”

How­ever, McKen­zie had no hes­i­ta­tion in re­cently drop­ping another ta­lented play­maker in James O’Con­nor from the Aus­tralia set-up af­ter the mer­cu­rial back was es­corted off the premises at Perth Air­port – the lat­est in a se­ries of em­bar­rass­ing offfield in­ci­dents that have blighted his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer.

“I’ve been in that po­si­tion where you haven’t been part of the team and you have had lots of time to think about what’s im­por­tant,” Cooper said.

This week saw O’Con­nor join English Premier­ship side Lon­don Ir­ish and Cooper added: “If you look at it in the right way, that ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a rea­son, then it might be a good thing for him to change some­thing in his life.”

One thing Cooper doesn’t want to change is his love of box­ing, hav­ing knocked out his op­po­nent in the first round when he made his pro­fes­sional de­but in Bris­bane in Fe­bru­ary.

How­ever, he in­sisted thoughts of a ring re­turn wouldn’t prove a dis­trac­tion from the job at hand.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to my next bout, but the fo­cus for me is this tour and I’ve got a mas­sive game on Satur­day.” – Sapa-AFP

RE­SPON­SI­BLE JOB: Quade Cooper of the Wal­la­bies has been named vice-cap­tain for the clash against the English to­day.

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