OPINION: Cooper - plonker or genius?
Fri, 24 Aug 2012 12:36p.m.
NB: Watch the video for the most famous Genius/plonker incident involving Australia and New Zealand… extended vision of the underarm ‘incident’.
Opinion By Jim Kayes
To love him or hate, that seems to be the dilemma Kiwis are pondering when it comes to how they should react to Quade Cooper’s return to Eden Park.
Cooper was pilloried wherever he went in New Zealand during last year’s World Cup and seemed to let the Eden Park crowd get to him in a below-par performance when Australia lost to the All Blacks in the semi-final.
All Blacks’ wing Cory Jane’s suggested Kiwis should lay off Cooper, though he was also quick to acknowledge the Wallabies' first-five had made a rod for his own back with his on-field attacks on All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.
Sport is riddled with athletes who earn reputations (deserved or not) that rile a crowd. The list is endless, but here’s a few to jog the memory: tennis’s John McEnroe, basketball’s Dennis Rodman, football’s Eric Cantona and Vinnie Jones, golf’s John Daly (and perhaps now Tiger Woods) and closer to home cricket’s Shane Warne and league’s Wally Lewis and Mark Geyer. How about Sonny Bill Williams’ good mate and fellow league player turned boxer Anthony Mundine? Or All Blacks’ Carlos Spencer and Ali Williams? What about Aussie cricket’s Trevor and Greg Chappell and their under arm delivery.
While I don’t condone booing, there’s nothing wrong with a crowd letting an athlete know how they feel – and how that athlete deals with it often defines where they rank as a player.
I’m fairly sure Sir Richard Hadlee was spurred on by the chants from Australian crowds that “Hadlee’s a wanker”. It’s that sort of mental toughness that made him one of the game’s greatest players.
Ditto Shane Warne, who loves the limelight as much as the sunbed.
What seems to irk Kiwis about Cooper is that he hasn’t tugged his forelock and shown deference to the All Blacks. Rather than bend his knee, he’s used it to whack the skipper in the head – and got away with it.
Where’s the respect!? Well, it reminds me of when Spencer scored a length of the field try for the Blues against the Crusaders, running through the posts, only to then trot out to the corner to put the ball down. With the boos of the Canterbury crowd ringing in his ears he calmly slotted the sideline conversion to deny the Crusaders a bonus point.
Cooper is Carlos Spencer... but in Wallabies' gold.
He’s an erratic genius with the ball in hand that can’t be put in a box, categorised, and pinned down, or seen in black and white. He’s too colourful.
Too much his own – somewhat different – man.
He might be a plonker (I’ve no idea, never met the bloke) but if he is, he’s a plonker on his terms.
Kiwis don’t like that. So, Cooper should expect to cop plenty when he runs out at Eden Park in the second Bledisloe Cup test.
Playing well might silence the crowd – but probably not.
Follow me on Twitter: @jimkayes
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24/08/2012 2:48:44 p.m.
he brought it upon himself is right indeed. i think the game in HK a few years back is where it all started. ahwell u reap what u sew
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