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All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has backed Qantas Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper’s calls for New Zealand Rugby fans to stop the “below the belt” booing of team mate Quade Cooper.
New Zealand born Cooper has been regularly booed by sections of New Zealand fans since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, held in New Zealand.
But now Hooper has said enough is enough and his comments have been backed by the All Blacks head coach as well as captain Richie McCaw, injured flyhalf Dan Carter and fullback Israel Dagg.
Cooper was greeted by a chorus of jeers once more on Saturday night in Sydney when he replaced Brumbies star Matt Toomua in the second half.
"I think it's quite unreasonable what the All Black supporters are doing to him (Cooper)," said Hooper from the Wallabies camp in Melbourne yesterday.
"He's a great player and a great guy so I think everyone who enjoys footy wants to see him do well.
"I think the booing's a bit below-the-belt sort of stuff. He deserves more than that as a player."
Hooper also marked out Cooper as a player to watch as the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship continues.
"He's got more to bring. I think with more time on the field, and the performances that he can put on there, that will change and the booing will go because people will want to see him play. He's very exciting.
"I can't comment for him, but personally something like that would spur you on, so I think he's got it under control."
Hooper’s remarks were later endorsed by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen who said in Wellington, “it would be good if we all got over it.”
"I don't boo him and I'll continue not to boo him”, said Hansen. “I think he's a good player, I think he's not a bad bloke either when you have a quiet chat to him."
Dagg, a close friend of Cooper’s, has also joined the chorus tweeting recently after the Crusaders and Reds game in Christchurch: "Great win by the boys but please peeps give @QuadeCooper a break!! Disappointed by the boos #moveon.”
Wallabies fans can only hope that New Zealand fans listen to their coach, captain and star players and stop the unsporting booing of Cooper this Saturday night when the Wallabies play the All Blacks in Wellington (AEST 5.30pm).
It’s the Wallabies second match of the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship and also the second Bledisloe Cup Test of the year, which the Wallabies must win if they are to have a chance of winning back the famous Cup which Australia has not held since 2002.
The Wallabies then move on to Brisbane where they will play the Springboks on September 7th. To get tickets to that match CLICK HERE