Cooper's comeback complete
Sun, 01 Dec 2013 10:55
It wouldn't have been possible to think where I would be today
Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper capped a sensational comeback season with a sublime performance in Saturday’s 30-26 win over Wales in Cardiff.
Cooper, 12 months ago, was an international outcast, axed by then coach Robbie Deans after the playmaker labelled the environment in the Wallaby camp as “toxic.”
At the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, Cooper completed his amazing transformation with a man of the match performance to lead Australia to their fourth consecutive victory.
Thriving in his role as vice-captain, Cooper was at his bamboozling best in his 50th Test, pulling the strings and setting up tries with his playmaking prowess.
The 25-year-old admitted even he is surprised by his rise back to the top over the past year.
"I'm fortunate to have finished the year off like this, it's something I've always worked towards," he told AAP.
"From where I was at a year ago it wouldn't have been possible to think where I would be today, but it proves that hard work and dedication, and sticking with something you love and giving it back to your teammates ... can lead to things."
Cooper was sinbinned for an early tackle with five minutes to go, which put the Wallabies under extreme pressure as Wales pushed for their first win over one of the SANZAR giants since 2008.
But Australia held on through committed defence, character Cooper praised.
"I was sitting on the sideline so filthy with myself, I didn't want to let the team down," Cooper said.
"But it's a sign of a good team when ... everything is going against us, everybody pulled together and lifted a little bit more."
Similar to Cooper resurgence has been the way the Wallabies finished a tumultuous year that included a1-2 series loss to the British and Irish Lions.
The successful end-of-season tour, which could have been a Grand Slam if not for a second-half slump in the 13-20 tour-opening loss to England at Twickenham, saw Australia end the year with a 6-6 win-loss record.
Cooper felt they built a solid foundation on their European excursion and united as a squad after six players were stood down following an alcohol-fuelled late night in Dublin, which could lead the Wallabies back to the summit of Test rugby.
"I feel this tour has put us ahead of where we thought we would be," Cooper said.
"We've made a lot of things [happen] that we didn't think were possible as a team, in terms of culture.
"Everyone's pulled together tight and we've come out the other side a bigger and better team.
"I know that those things will put us in a position to be the best in the world."
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