Sport | Rugby

Quade Cooper speaks out about being 'well known and hated'

Tokoroa-born former Wallabies first five Quade Cooper has talked in-depth about his career, including how he felt he felt when former coach Robbie Deans ‘threw him out to dry’. Cooper, who is now with the Melbourne Rebels, opened up in The Ice Project Podcast, hosted by his childhood friend and former NRL player Issac John.

The incident happened in 2012 after the banged-up Wallabies had just defeated Argentina, thanks in no small part to a performance from an injured Cooper.

"I hurt my knee in one of the training sessions and told the management I had a bit of floating cartilage. I said, 'I don't know if I can play', they said, 'No you're sweet, you can get surgery next week in the week off, this is the last week and we need to win it'," Cooper said.

"We won the game and in the media [conference, post-match] Robbie said to the media, 'If we had a reserve to bring on' - all our boys got injured - 'I would have hooked Quade'.

"So we won the game, I'd just played through an injury he knew about, so I felt really let down and embarrassed.

"I took that, and I ended up saying,' F--- you, you've just thrown me out to dry', I said, 'You're a s--- coach'. Not in those words but I basically said that. We ended up getting in a bit of an argument and that's when I got fined from the ARU [Australian Rugby Union, now known as Rugby Australia].”

Cooper also talked about dealing with New Zealand fans who viewed him as a traitor, especially after he kneed All Black captain Richie McCaw in the head during a Bledisloe Cup game in 2011.

“I've been punched in the head, kneed in the head, all that stuff, but it was who you did it to. Already, I was a Kiwi boy playing for Australia, so they [were] already hating on me to start with and then I go and knee the captain of the All Blacks, untouchable, in the head. That's even worse.

"I walked into New Zealand for the World Cup and I've never been involved in anything like it. I couldn't walk (anywhere), I couldn't go anywhere. I was on the team bus and there were signs 'I hope you break your leg, I hope you die in this game'. Things like that. I went from being well known to the most well known and the most hated. It was crazy.”

Cooper clarified that he eventually apologised to McCaw.

In the wide-ranging podcast, Cooper also delved into his departure from the Reds, dealing with the serious knee injury that derailed his career, and growing up in Tokoroa.