All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has confirmed what most people have thought all along: the duel with Wallabies No.10 Quade Cooper became personal and somewhat bitter.
In his autobiography The Open Side, released in New Zealand yesterday, McCaw says Cooper's knee to his head at a ruck in Brisbane was deliberate and had caused him to lose sight of the game plan and target the Wallabies five-eighth.
''There was a bit of post-game controversy around Quade Cooper's attempt to knee me in the head as he was extricating himself from a ruck,'' McCaw wrote. ''The intent of what he was trying to do pissed me off more than the execution. Shortly after that happened, I was carrying and should have passed, but I lit up and I saw Quade standing in front of me and clattered into him instead.
''I was disappointed in myself doing that, letting it get personal. There's no need - players like Quade get sorted. Sooner or later they get their beans.''
Before the next time they met, in the World Cup semi-final at Eden Park, McCaw wrote that the mood in the All Blacks' camp was focused and confident. ''We heard during the week that the Aussie camp was pretty confident. I'm not sure where the information came from … I don't go along with most people who say the Wallabies are more dangerous when they are confident. I reckon they're more vulnerable.
''As early as the 20-minute mark, I could see the inevitability in their eyes. They knew this day wasn't going to go that good for them.
''James Horwill had won the toss and chose to kick off, to put pressure on us. Which Quade immediately blew by kicking it out on the full.''