Enigmatic Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper is confident he can overcome his indifferent goalkicking display to help bury England’s World Cup hopes if given the chance.
Cooper’s Jekyll and Hyde performance in the Wallabies’ 11-tries-to-none thrashing of Uruguay on Sunday included three brilliant try assists, a “disappointing” yellow card and a horror day with the boot – where he kicked five from 11.
Despite working with new kicking coach Chris Malone, Cooper struggled for consistency with his goalkicking, albeit almost exclusively from near the sideline.
Such a display with the boot is unlikely to help his case for selection in the vital Pool A clash with England at Twickenham on Saturday, which is must-win for the host nation.
However Cooper showed his dedication to the craft by returning to the field after fulltime to take a few more shots at goal.
“I was just a bit disappointed with a few of the misses,” he said.
“I just wanted to get out and practice a few.
“There were still people there (in the stands) so you’ve still got a bit of atmosphere.
“I’m confident in my (goal-kicking) ability.
“I know that I have been kicking well at training…I kicked well after the game and made a few adjustments to what I was doing.”
It concluded an up-and-down afternoon for the mercurial talent who, with ball in hand, looked a constant threat.
Having regathered a Beale midfield grubber, Cooper produced a superb flick pass for Joe Tomane to cross for the Wallabies’ second try.
He was in the thick of things for Drew Mitchell’s second try – throwing a pinpoint cut-out pass to hit the winger on the chest.
It’s why he shouldn’t be discounted for Saturday’s crucial Pool A match with England at Twickenham – despite Bernard Foley having one foot in the door already.
When asked if he felt he staked his claim, Cooper was clear: “To be honest, I did. I was happy to be out there and do my part.
“Where I’m continuing to try to push my claims is at training each day.
“I’m trying to do everything that is asked of me and do it well.
“If I get an opportunity I know I’ll be ready and will have the backing of the guys.
“Everybody is in that frame of mind of doing the best job at training.
“Whoever gets the opportunity we’ll support them.
“This is bigger than any individual, this is bigger than the team, winning each game and trying to win the Cup – this is for the country.”
The 27-year-old was sent to the sin-bin for tackling Uruguayan No.9 Agustin Ormaechea high and then body-slamming him into the turf.
It is Cooper’s third yellow card in his past four Tests – with sin-bins also coming against Argentina and New Zealand.
All three offences have been high tackles.
“It was disappointing to be sin-binned as it was such an awesome atmosphere out there,” Cooper said.
“I am not sure on what’s going to happen now, it’s hard for me comment on that.
“I will just wait and see how it unfolds and continue to prepare and get better each day.”
Should a player accumulate three yellow cards through tournament play, he can earn a one-game suspension and with coach Michael Cheika indicated the Wallabies would appeal the card.