Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper admits he was embarrassed after his on-field brawl with legendary All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.
Cooper, who was born in New Zealand, also revealed McCaw was one of his favorite players and ‘idolized’ him growing up and detailed how things changed when he pursued a career in Wallaby’s Gold.
Build a hate
The flair-filled playmaker said he forced himself to develop a hatred for the likes of McCaw to align with Wallabies locker room, which ultimately culminated in an incident on the pitch that he is not proud of.
“That’s where all my feuds with Richie McCaw and stuff come from. I’ve talked to him since about all the issues and that, but I idolized him growing up. Cooper explained on the podcast, guy in a bar.
“For every New Zealander, he was the guy, and you just wanted to meet him. But now I’m playing for Australia.
“In Australian locker rooms and stuff like that, everyone is the opposite, they just want to kill him and that.
“I’m like, ‘He’s my favorite player, him and Dan Carter.’ I was kind of like, ‘I have to develop this, I have to hate it too.’
“In the game in Hong Kong, I cleaned him up, and he’s on the ground… I kind of stand on top of him, and he just kicks off with his foot to get me out.
“I was like ‘oh, he kicked me.’ I kind of said a few words to him… In my head, I just wanted him back.
“We ended up scoring the try that tied the game in overtime, and he tackled (James) O’Connor as he was sort of falling, and I came in stealing, and I gave him gave a push. That’s what triggered it.
“I gave him a push and said a few words to him, then (Mils) Muliaina, a few other boys came in and pushed me away.
“In my head, when I look back, it was just my emotion that I had accumulated to have some kind of motivation against this guy.
“I remember walking off the pitch and I was so embarrassed and disappointed. I was like, ‘how can I go take a picture with him now?’
“It was a really weird situation.”
The situation put a target on Cooper’s back in a way, as New Zealand fans took the opportunity to try out the homegrown Wallabies, particularly at Rugby 2011. world Cup.
Find your identity
Cooper admits it was difficult, but things have improved, and now he considers himself Australian, which is possible even if you were born in another country.
“When I was young, the difference is now I’m Australian,” he added.
“If you find someone who was born in Greece and grew up here, they are still Greek, but they are (also) Australian.
“That’s the thing with our country, and I guess where the Wallabies are now…we really focus on and appreciate the multiculturalism that we have here in Australia.
“It doesn’t mean you can’t be Samoan or you can’t be Tongan, you have to be one or the other…for me it’s come to the same point where I’m like ‘J ‘love watching the All Blacks.’
“When I watch the All Blacks, I support them. When I play against them, it’s a game.
“The more I worked on my own identity and who I am as a man, the easier it became because at the time I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know if I should be on that side.
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