Irish rave over 'sublime' Cooper

Sun, 17 Nov 2013 20:18
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Australian flyhalf Quade Cooper and his team won rich praise from the Irish media after their 32-15 demolition of Ireland at the weekend.

Australian flyhalf Quade Cooper and his team won rich praise from the Irish media after their 32-15 demolition of Ireland at the weekend.

The mercurial 25-year-old, who once described the atmosphere in the Wallabies camp under previous coach Robbie Deans as 'toxic', was roundly applauded for his performance which saw him contribute 17 points including a wonderful try.

Denis Walsh, writing in the Irish edition of The Sunday Times also praised Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie, who coached Cooper at the Queensland Reds, for placing his faith in him to the extent that he gave him the vice-captaincy for the tour.

"Quade Cooper was a joy in everything he did: game management, inventiveness, kicking," wrote Walsh.

"With Cooper you can never be sure of anything, least of all what will happen next.

"Very few coaches would welcome such uncertainty or indulge it; Ewen McKenzie has embraced it.

"You could see why....; given the freedom to express himself Cooper bestrode the match."

Neil Francis, capped 36 times at lock for Ireland and now an award winning columnist for the Sunday Independent, was full of praise for the Australian team and coach.

"It must have been a very gratifying and reassuring performance for the Australians. They were clinical and nonchalantly professional and way too good for an Irish side hopelessly out of their depth and a couple of leagues below in skill levels."

Indeed Francis suggested the progress made under McKenzie since he replaced Deans, after he was sacked following the 2-1 loss to the British and Irish Lions earlier this year, could have seen the present team reverse the Lions defeat.

"Under Robbie Deans, Australia's tactical and spiritual dipstick was about two drops short of bone dry.

"You could see yesterday [Saturday] that if this Australian side played against the Lions the whole series would have been dramatically different....the quality and execution of their passing was sublime."

On the other side of the coin there was scathing assessments of the Irish performance and while Cooper could pore over the papers with glee, legendary Irish centre Brian O'Driscoll would be best advised to avoid them.

The 34-year-old was largely anonymous in what was his 127th Test appearance, and his last against the Australians.

Lions coach Warren Gatland's bold decision to drop him from the last and decisive Test against the Wallabies, which had been greeted with horror in Ireland, now seemed the right one.

"O'Driscoll did nothing to suggest that his omission from the third Test of the Lions series was the greatest injustice in the history of world sport," was the dry observation of one commentator.

Coach Joe Schmidt, who only has two Tests under his belt since replacing Declan Kidney, had been given a wake-up call ahead of the tough prospect of trying to prevent the All Blacks becoming the first side to win all their test matches in a calendar year.

"Joe Schmidt is a smart guy. He will have known the potential of this Irish squad and its limitations.

"What is clear already is that the limitations will be a stretch for his vivid imagination."