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Quade Cooper wins over hearts and minds of critics

Quade Cooper: "When I go and train hard, put in good performances, that's what I'll be remembered for".

Quade Cooper: "When I go and train hard, put in good performances, that's what I'll be remembered for". Photo: Reuters

For a long time, it seemed as if Quade Cooper couldn't put a foot right in front of the Australian rugby public. Many would argue he didn't help himself, whether it be nights out with James O'Connor or his messy fallout with Robbie Deans.

Queensland Reds fans gave him more latitude than most, given his brilliance in 2011 when the province won the Super Rugby title. But once he flew over the Tweed border, it became a much harder sell.

Now Cooper seems to be making headway in the battle for hearts and minds, winning over Wallabies supporters as well as his teammates, who have witnessed rapid personal growth for a man now determined to make every post a winner in his second chance at the highest level.

Cooper can sense it, as well, although he's hardly getting carried away with the odd kind word in the press, or praise for the kind of maturity that has seen him mentioned as a potential Wallabies captain. These days, Cooper remains one of the better interviews in rugby but can't help but occasionally sound like a motivational speaker. Being praised for good work simply means you do more work, he says.

But he admits it is gratifying to know some of his long-time critics are finally starting to embrace his new approach to life and football.

''People are going to have different opinions of me, whether I like it or not. But to see some of the things being written and said about me, it is quite heart-warming to know that the hard work is being recognised,'' said Cooper, who returned to Ballymore early to begin his pre-season.

''That just means I have to continue to work hard. I can't just think, 'Someone said something nice about me, that's cool, that's good enough'.

''The things that matter are how I turn up to training, how I'm seen by my teammates. When I go and train hard, put in good performances, that's what I'll be remembered for.''

There's a long way to go yet but if Cooper was appointed Wallabies captain by Ewen McKenzie, it would mark the completion of one of the most remarkable turnarounds in Australian sport, from outcast and pariah to inspirational leader. Even Cooper has to pinch himself to think he is even in the conversation to take over from Ben Mowen, who will move to France at the end of the Super Rugby season.

''Guys are throwing up my name as a possibility of being Wallaby captain. I look back six months and think there's no way that could have happened,'' Cooper said. ''I know that the hard work is paying off. You have to keep working hard.''

For the record, Cooper isn't expecting to be given the nod. Will Genia, previous captain James Horwill and the returning David Pocock all have claims of their own. He said he remained focused on taking the Wallabies to the next level, with next year's World Cup the goal.

''We want to be a team that, come World Cup, we're right up there and winning, not just a team with a lot of potential. I'm not focusing on captaincy issues,'' Cooper said.

Cooper has returned to Ballymore in fine fettle, given he is also preparing for his second boxing bout in late January.

In the meantime, he said he would be continuing to add the extras at Reds training as Queensland try to ensure they are there when the whips are cracking under new coach Richard Graham.

''Hard work off the field is the stuff that really matters, the stuff when people aren't looking. Those are the things that really pick up your game,'' Cooper said.

''I always say to the younger guys that when you get given a schedule of training, that's a bare minimum. If you want to be the best you have to work outside those parameters.

''That's something I've applied to my game as a rugby player and as a person,'' he said.

55 comments so far

  • Notice the day Cooper got out from under James O'Connor and Kurtly Beal's influence his stocks started to rise. Good on him for making the cut. I hope he gets more well directed advice in his career.

    Date and time
    January 16, 2014, 10:17PM
    • I think his biggest change was when he finally got rid of the stupid haircut, this was when he matured as a player and a person. The wallabies started their downward slope when the players seemed to care more about their appearance in photos rather than what they could do on the field.

      Cooper came out and slammed the Wallaby system and it appears he was right.

      Date and time
      January 17, 2014, 8:40AM
    • Exactly. Cooper was a bit too much of a leagie for quite a while and didn't get the cultural differences but the other two were definitely a poor influence.

      Don't think Deans really knew how to handle these idiots. Getting rid of O'Connor however was the best thing that could've happened to the Wallabies. Hopefully we've seen the last of him.

      Date and time
      January 17, 2014, 9:10AM
    • Quade began perpetrating atrocities BEFORE the other amigos had started their careers. So perhaps all they did was enhance his d***headed-ness. I do, however, acknowledge that QC has turned some kind of corner. His game has improved out of sight, and he's worked out that no headlines are better than bad ones...

      Hugh Briss
      Gold Coast
      Date and time
      January 17, 2014, 10:18AM
    • Judge a player by the standard of the opposition he plays against. Yes a better attitude helps, but really it's the same old QC - shy on tackles, looks for sideline or fullback in general defence, cramps backline across field and throws the ball away when being tackled often. He, like the coach of the Wallabies are false hopes to hinge your RWC bets on. Australia had the coach to get you there but he wasn't backed when it came to a player revolt and Cooper was right in amongst it all undermining the team. Now the team is playing worse over all - esp against the better teams - AB's, SA and England. enough with the excuses, Australia use to only like winners, now they accept 4th place.

      Date and time
      January 17, 2014, 10:49AM
    • @sod98

      ' they accept 4th place.'

      Ummm... just a tad incorrect. Our IRB ranking is now 3rd which is still un-acceptable just like your assersions to the form of QC, the Wallaby coach and all things Wallaby. I suppose it's no real surprise coming from one of those ill-informed Kiwi types..... mmmm how real Kiwis must cringe ?

      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      January 17, 2014, 11:33AM
    • When they hired a Kiwi coach, the Kiwi wallaby failed to cope. As soon as they sack the Kiwi coach and put his old mentor in charge this Kiwi Wallaby is back to his best.

      Date and time
      January 17, 2014, 12:54PM
    • He also needs to ditch his manager.

      Date and time
      January 17, 2014, 3:07PM
    • @Sod98 we will be up to the challenge this year Shaky Isle man. Shake that sod off my shoe.

      Date and time
      January 17, 2014, 3:32PM
    • Come on guys where is the proof of improvement - wins against teams the AB's and SA better every other day. When the Wallabies beat the AB's and SA consistently not to mention England then just maybe we will take you guys seriously. QC simply wouldn't get a game for a Super team over here, but yes to a ITM cup team. Ever heard of defence is your first line of attack. Guess not.

      Date and time
      January 21, 2014, 8:52AM

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Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
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Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
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Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
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BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
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Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
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Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
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