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McKenzie not suprised by improving Cooper

  
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10/21/2013


Qantas Wallabies Head Coach Ewen McKenzie is not suprised by the return to form of Reds playmaker Quade Cooper, hinting that stability is the key to his improving performances on the field.

"The routine of week-to-week playing, knowing what his responsibilities are, knowing how he's going to play the game, all those things are fairly certain for him at the moment," said McKenzie after the Wallabies impressive display in the narrow 41-33 loss to the world champion All Blacks in Dunedin on Saturday.

"That allows Quade to concentrate on the competitive part of it which is what he likes; to win games, rather than worry about his injuries or off-field stuff. It's all been pretty straight forward."

The erudite McKenzie knows Cooper well having coached and nurtured him over four seasons as Head Coach of the Queensland Reds.

The appointment of the new Wallabies coach in July has done wonders for 25-year-old Cooper.

Quade landed seven from seven kicks on Saturday, set up tries with excellent distribution as well as pulling off a try-saving tackle, in what many people are calling his best ever game in the Wallabies jersey.

For his part McKenzie was not surprised, never losing belief in his young flyhalf.

"I've seen the 100 per cent goal kicking, I've seen him manage a game and I've seen him make try-saving tackles," McKenzie said.

"Everyone likes to say 'he can't do this' and 'he can't do that' or 'because the crowd's booing he can't play'. Well it didn't seem to affect him on Saturday, he just gets out there. Maybe he had the full gamut on display but I know what he's capable of doing."

One of the Wallabies most experienced players, the ever-reliable Adam Ashley-Cooper, also threw his support behind Cooper telling the media before the game Quade was "a completely different person" since returning to the Wallabies squad in July.

As for Cooper himself he is refusing to get carried away, putting the team effort before his own individual performance.

"We have to stick tight together as a team and continue to build for something we're working hard at, which is being a world class team," Cooper explained.

"Those things don't happen overnight but we can see the end result and the closer we come as a team, when we play against the All Blacks and South Africa, the better we'll be in the long run."

McKenzie can see the similarities between Cooper and All Blacks flyhalf Aaron Cruden, who has emerged as a world class No.10 after spending his early years in the shadow of the great Dan Carter.

"They're exactly the same age (and) played against each other in age group," said McKenzie.

"They came in and were expressive and people had question marks about sectors of their games. Now they're playing in the top teams under the pressure and spotlight and performing in all the sectors of the game necessary. The best part is that people are talking about [Cooper] playing footy, the bit that he likes."

Cooper is sure to build on his current good form when the Wallabies begin their Spring Tour of the UK and Italy against England at Twickenham on November 2nd.

To check out the Qantas Wallabies full Spring Tour schedule CLICK HERE