Cooper has no problem with public enemy tag

Wallaby playmaker Quade Cooper says that he has no problem in being tagged “public enemy number one ” by the New Zealand Rugby World Cup after an incident with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

The New Zealand-born fly-half Cooper is decried as a villain in the country over the confrontations, which include pushing McCaw’s head while celebrating James O’Connor’s winning try over the All Blacks in Hong Kong last October.

Most recently he escaped sanction despite kneeing the Kiwi skipper in the head during Australia’s Tri-Nations victory in Brisbane last month, when the pair also came to blows.

Cooper, 23, has received a torrent of abuse from Kiwi fans on his social media Twitter site and said he was ready for a hostile reception when he arrived in the Shaky Isles to orchestrate Australia’s World Cup campaign.

“It doesn’t bother me at all, ” Cooper said told reporters ahead of Sunday’s opener against Italy at North Harbour.

“I don’t mind being public enemy number one and I don’t mind being the number one fan here so it’s going to come with the territory.

“Most New Zealanders hate the Wallabies but there are a lot out there who respect the way that we play as well.

“We have a lot of respect for the All Black public and the All Black jersey for what they have done and the history that they have.

“At the same time we’re here to win a competition, we’re not here to make friends or make enemies, it’s all about playing rugby and enjoying it at the same time. “

Cooper said his Twitter account has been running red hot with messages from fans in recent weeks.

“I get a buzz all the time reading my Twitter, there are a lot of guys out there who have their own opinions and some not necessarily nice or some good as well, ” he said.

“But at the same time I like reading through them and getting back to most of them. “

Cooper said there was nothing personal with McCaw, who is widely admired in New Zealand as the All Blacks’ warrior leader and is preparing to make his 99th Test appearance against Tonga on Friday.

“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him. But from my point of view there’s not, ” Cooper said.

“It’s just a matter that he’s wearing a different jersey and looking to dominate us as well.

“From a personal point of view I don’t know the bloke, I haven’t had much to do with him off the field but I know that when he’s out on the field he plays his heart out, he wears his heart on his sleeve and he does a great job of leading the All Blacks.

Cooper is under intense scrutiny in New Zealand in his potential match-winning role as the All Blacks attempt to win their first World Cup since their initial success in 1987.

“That (Tri-Nations) win a few weeks ago would have stirred up a few Kiwis and at the same time it definitely got the hearts pumping in Australia, ” Cooper said.

“So the confidence levels are slowly getting up there, but I’m sure we’ve just got to take it week by week and hopefully build some momentum. “

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