Quade Cooper: Wallabies star opens up on his scrap with Richie McCaw all those years ago

Wallabies Quade Cooper and Richie McCaw during Test between Australia and the All Blacks Credit: Alamy
Wallabies Quade Cooper and Richie McCaw during Test between Australia and the All Blacks Credit: Alamy

Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper admitted he was embarrassed after his on-field scrap with legendary All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.

Cooper, who was born in New Zealand, also revealed that McCaw was one of his favourite players and that he “idolised” him growing up and detailed how things changed when he pursued a career in Wallaby gold.

Building a hatred

The flair-filled playmaker said he forced himself to develop a hatred for the likes of McCaw to align with the Wallabies dressing room, which ultimately resulted in an on-field incident he is not proud of.

“That’s where all my run-ins with Richie McCaw and stuff sort of stem from. I’ve spoken to him since all of the issues and that, but I idolised him growing up,” Cooper explained on the podcast, Bloke In A Bar.

“To every New Zealander, that was the dude, and you just wanted to meet him. But now I’m playing for Australia.

“In the Australian locker room and stuff like this, everybody is the opposite, they just want to kill him and that.

“I’m like, ‘he’s my favourite player, him and Dan Carter.’ I kind of was like, ‘I’ve got to develop this, I’ve got to hate him too.’

“In the game in Hong Kong, I cleaned him out, and he’s on the ground… I’m sort of standing over him, and he just kicks off with his foot to get me off.

“I was like ‘oh, he kicked me.’ I sort of said a few words to him… In my head, I just wanted to get him back.

“We ended up scoring the try that tied the game in overtime, and he made the tackle on (James) O’Connor as he was sort of falling over, and I came flying in, and I gave him a shove. That’s what kicked that off.

“I gave him a shove and said some words to him, and then (Mils) Muliaina, a few other boys came in and pushed me off.

“In my head, when I look back, that was just my emotion that I had built up to have some type of motivation against this guy.

“I remember walking off the field, and I was so embarrassed and disappointed. I was like, ‘how do I go and get a photo with him now?’

“It was a real weird situation.”

The situation put a target on Cooper’s back in a sense as New Zealand fans took their opportunities to have a go at the fly-half, particularly in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Found his identity

Cooper admits it was tough, but things have improved, and now he sees himself as Australian, which is possible even if you are born in a different country.

“When I was young, the difference is that now I am Australian,” he added.

“If you get someone who is born in Greece and grown up here, they’re still Greek, but they’re (also) Australian.

“That’s the thing with our country, and I guess where the Wallabies are at now… we’re actually really focusing on and appreciating the multiculturalism that we have here in Australia.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t be Samoan or you can’t be Tongan, you’ve got to be one or the other… for me, I’ve sort of got to that same point where I’m like ‘I love watching the All Blacks.’

“When I watch the All Blacks I’m supporting them. When I play against them, well it’s a game.

“The more that I’ve worked on my own identity and who I am as a man, the easier that’s become because back then I actually didn’t know who I was. I wasn’t sure if I should be on that side.”

READ MORE: Wallabies: Dave Rennie speaks out for the first time since being brutally sacked

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