Dan Lydiate: Quade Cooper one of the best
December 2, 2013
The Wallabies maintained their grip on Wales in Cardiff (video available only in Australia)
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Wales flanker Dan Lydiate concedes Quade Cooper - one of "the best players in the world" - got the better of his side, but is confident his teammates will be ready to topple Australia soon. Wales lost to the Wallabies 30-26 in a classic clash at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday, the side's ninth straight loss to Australia.
It continued a worrying trend for the Welsh, who despite an impressive recent record in Europe have come up consistently short against southern hemisphere sides. Since Warren Gatland took over as coach in early 2008, Wales have won 22 out of 30 Six Nations games, landing three titles and two grand slams.
But the likes of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have collectively triumphed on 22 occasions from 23 starts, with Wales' victory over Australia five years ago the one anomaly under Gatland. With Wales drawing the Wallabies and England in what looks the toughest pool at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, it's a record they need to change fast.
"We have picked up a lot of injuries during this campaign, and some young players have come in and have done themselves justice," said Lydiate. "That bodes well for the future." When analysing his side's inability to get over the line against the Wallabies yet again, Lydiate singled out Cooper who was man of the match in his 50th Test.
"I know we keep saying it, but we are not far off," he said. "The speed of ball is just so quick ... it is so hard to defend against someone like Quade Cooper because you don't know if he is going to pass. When you think he will take it into contact, he pulls the pass out the back of the hand.
"These are the best players in the world, so you can't give them any sort of chance because they will punish you. When we played against the (Queensland) Reds for the (British & Irish) Lions, he was real quality for them. I remember saying at the time I thought he would be back in the squad by the end of the Lions tour, but that did not happen. They do miss a quality player like him, and it shows what he can do when he plays."
Wales centre Scott Williams said of his side's inability to shutdown Cooper's spark: "It is like chasing shadows. He is an outstanding player. It was definitely as hard as anything defending-wise because they have so many threats in attack," Williams added. "It felt like we were tackling, tackling and tackling in the first half."
Quade Cooper recieved man-of-the-match honours for his performance against Wales © Getty Images