I wonder how Matt Giteau and James O’Connor feel right now.
It’s no secret I’m not (and never have been) Quade Cooper’s biggest fan. As a matter of fact I’m right at the top of the list of people who think he’s the most overrated player around. And I can guarantee after the last few games, that list is getting much longer.
James O’Connor, who really is one of the best players going, got dropped for two games for missing the announcement of the Wallabies World Cup squad. And even though the first game was the Tri Nations final, I agreed 100% with his suspension. Rugby is a team sport and you need to follow team rules.
No one player should ever think he’s bigger than the team.
Which makes the Quade Cooper thing even more difficult to understand.
The publicity surrounding Quade Cooper in New Zealand – publicity in which the entire Wallabies team has been complicit – is all about the individual and not the team. Cooper’s been profiled in magazines everywhere and world cup coverage is about how well he’s played – or more often how badly.
Cooper has flashes of … very good play. He can find a hole and make a break. But far too often that break ends in him losing the ball, giving away a penalty or giving away a try – usually because he didn’t use his support. I’ve lost count of the number of times commentators have said “Cooper is brilliant … but”. And the but is usually “he should have passed that” or “he should have used his support”, or – the most telling – “even his own team mates never know what he’s going to do.” WTF???
Who was it who said “A star team will always beat a team of stars”, or words to that effect?
It seems that ever since Cooper pulled on those white socks as a kid so he’d stand out, that’s probably the biggest lesson he’s never learned. Being in a team is about supporting your team mates – not just vice versa.
Graham Henry was right. Cooper did bring the “Public Enemy No 1” crap on himself, with more than a little bit of help from Robbie Deans. Is it that Deans is still pissed off about missing out on the All Blacks coaching job and wants to prove to them that he can make a Dan Carter too?
Despite all the publicity and all the hype Quade Cooper is no Dan Carter. Not even close.
Dan Carter is a very disciplined player, and that’s another thing Cooper lacks – discipline, whether it’s self discipline or discipline imposed by his coach and team mates.
Now that the Wallabies World Cup is over – or as good as – it’s time to review the strategy. High risk rugby is one thing, but if that risk is not coming off, then it’s time to change.
Cooper deserves to be dropped. And if I’m wrong and he really is a great player, then he’ll learn a lesson – and a bit of humility – and work his arse off to get back into the team.
And perhaps next time he really will show some brilliance.