Quade Cooper knees Richie McCaw in the head as he gets up from a ruck.
Quade Cooper has opened up on why he kneed Richie McCaw in the head.
The 70-test playmaker, who has just started his first season in Japan’s second division rugby competition with the Kintetsu Liners, sat down with childhood friend and former NRL player Isaac John for an epic debrief on the twists and turns his rugby career and life have taken.
He admitted for the first time to deliberately kneeing the “untouchable” All Blacks captain in the lead-up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup and said he was unprepared for what followed, as an entire nation – the country in which he grew up – turned on him.
“I look back at it now and I wasn’t ready for it,” Cooper, 31, told John’s podcast The Ice Project.
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“I had the expectation of 2011 (when the Reds won the Super Rugby title) of playing good football but now I had the pressure of all these guys hating me as well, and a whole country, not just the rugby public. 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’.
“If I had my time again, [because] I know how to handle it now, I’d just say, ‘Yeah I did it, so what?’. Not ‘So what?’, but ‘It’s part of footy, it was a bad play but I did it’, so what could people say?”.
Cooper revealed he approached McCaw years later to own up to the act.
“A few years later I’ve seen Richie in the airport and I went up to him and said, ‘Sorry about that’,” he said.
“It’s not that he didn’t care or he did care but, when I said sorry to him, I confronted it and said, ‘I really looked up to you as a kid, you were my idol, everyone in New Zealand loves you and I loved you, so when I played against you it was just emotion, passion took over, you were playing dirty on me and I kneed you.
“He’s one of the best at [dirty play].”