Rugby World Cup 2011
Deans tips Cooper to bounce back
ESPNscrum Staff
October 17, 2011

Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans believes that the criticism levelled at fly-half Quade Cooper in the wake of Sunday's Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat by the All Blacks has been over the top.

Deans has been particularly incensed by how much significance has been attributed to the fact that Cooper, public enemy No.1 in New Zealand because he was born in Waikato and yet plays for Australia, lofted his kick-off in Auckland straight into touch.

"There has been a lot made of something that's pretty small, really, when you look at it in the light of the whole game," the former Crusaders boss said. "And that's tough for a young man. Whether he's warranted all that is a bit of a moot point, really.

"The key thing for Quade is moving on. There's two ways he can go. You can absorb it, accept it, for what it is, but maintain your focus on the things that are important and keep going. Or you can let it get the better of you and turn your toes up. I'd like to think he won't be doing the latter.

"I've been very impressed actually with the way he's carried himself because clearly a lot of the dialogue has been unwarranted. It's easy for people who really have no knowledge of the man to take a pot-shot. I think the way he's carried himself has been impressive under the circumstances."

Indeed, Deans rubbished the suggestion the vitriol that Cooper has been subjected throughout the tournament has had a negative impact on his performances.

"It's easy to suggest that some of that comment has produced certain outcomes, for example, but it's just not that straightforward," he said. "I don't think it affected his performances at all, to be honest. The whole playing group has been under pressure, the whole playing group has made errors, but it's just the fact that his errors are attributed to a sideshow."

Meanwhile, Deans admitted that he is considering making wholesale changes to his starting line-up for Friday's third-place play-off with Wales.

"It's very likely there will be change, quite simply off the back of the burden that the core group have had. And there are some pretty battered bodies," he said.

As for Sunday's final between New Zealand and France, Deans believes that Les Bleus have little chance of denying the hosts a first World Cup success since 1987.

"What the All Blacks have is a group who have suffered on many occasions," he said. "The core of their group, the nucleus of their group, this is their third attempt and they've got that burning desire, that fire in the belly for that reason. And they've also got that mental resilience. We don't have that as yet, to the same extent. I can't see anyone stopping the All Blacks now."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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