Quade Cooper has been the name on everyone’s lips during the course of the Super XV and Tri Nations season. The mercurial fly half has been a breath of fresh air in the game and is someone that is most certainly one to watch in the World Cup.
Cooper is one of those rare breads that just possess a special gift. With ball in hand, there are very few like him in the world; none really. He has played in the centre but is now firmly settled as an outhalf and it is from here that he can create his magic. Indeed it was from the this role that he led the Queensland Reds to their first Super Rugby title, the culmination of a remarkable season.
What makes Cooper so special is his ability to attempt the unpredictable and pull it off. He sees passes that others don’t and goes through gaps that simply aren’t there. His distribution is top class, kicking out of hand can be brilliant, if a little erratic, and he can slice you open with a cunning side step or a flick of the wrist to put a team mate into space. This moment below for the Reds against the Blues in the Super XV semi final speaks for itself:
It should also be noted that Cooper has had the benefit of playing alongside Will Genia, another one of our World Cup Ones to Watch, both at club and country. The scrumhalf is not only a live wire around the pitch, as ably demonstrated all season, but his delivery is also first class. The quality of Genia’s pass affords Cooper that extra bit of time and gives him that extra half a yard of space.
As well as the brilliance, there remains still some weaknesses to Cooper’s game; he is by no means the finished article. At 23, the fly half is still relatively inexperienced and can be prone to mistakes. It remains to be seen whether he has composure to control a game the way a Dan Carter can.
Defensively, there remain question marks too. When New Zealand targeted him in Hong Kong last year, he looked vulnerable. Current Wallaby flanker David Pocock played inside Cooper at schools level and supposedly did a lot of his tackling for him. Although it would be amiss to suggest that is the case now. Cooper didn’t look particularly weak in this area in the Super XV.
In any case, the point with Cooper is his brilliance with the ball. He does things that others couldn’t even fathom and he can pull it off. That is what makes him special. Who would bet against him lighting up this World Cup? Not me.