WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Quade Cooper’s hostile reception from New Zealand rugby fans was brought on by his own actions, according to Steve Hansen, but the All Blacks coach said it was “probably” time for people to stop jeering the Wallabies playmaker during matches.
Cooper has been on the receiving end from All Blacks fans for the past three seasons after the 25-year-old flyhalf enraged the country of his birth for “cheap shots” on New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw in international matches.
Benched for the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney, Cooper was jeered by All Blacks fans when he came on for the last quarter of Australia’s 47-29 loss and is likely to receive worse if given game time in Saturday’s return match in Wellington.
Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper on Monday labelled the jeering “unreasonable” and “below the belt” on Monday, and Hansen also suggested he had had enough of it.
“Two things, firstly we are probably all over it. Secondly, he probably brought it all on himself,” Hansen told New Zealand media on Tuesday.
”I don’t boo him and I’ll continue not to boo him. I think he’s a good player and not a bad bloke either when you have a quiet chat to him.
“But it probably would be good if we all got over it.”
Cooper was branded “Public Enemy Number One” in New Zealand at the 2011 World Cup, and booed every time he touched the ball.
The vitriol has even followed him at provincial level, and he was abused by fans in Christchurch when his Super Rugby side Queensland Reds lost to the Crusaders in the playoffs.
All Blacks winger Julian Savea also suggested fans should quit the catcalls.
“Nah, it’s not (good),” New Zealand media quoted Savea as saying. “If someone was booing me all the time I know it would be pretty tough. I don’t know what else to say on that, but I guess it’s tough on (him).”
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Nick Mulvenney