New Zealand Rugby
All Blacks plot Cooper "homework"
July 7, 2011
Quade Cooper's game-breaking skills have been a key part of the Reds' push for Super Rugby glory © Getty Images
All Blacks coach Graham Henry will be glued to Saturday's Super Rugby Final as part of his quest to shackle Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper.
The in-form Cooper is set to play a central role for the Reds as they go head-to-head with the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium and his every move is set to be monitored by the All Blacks' coaching team ahead of this year's Tri-Nations battle and a potential Rugby World Cup showdown with their cross-Tasman rivals.
Henry has been impressed by Cooper's contribution to the Reds' run to their first Super Rugby final in the professional era and is well aware that the 23-year-old fly-half has the potential to derail his own sides attempt to claim an unprecedented Tri-Nations and World Cup double.
"You've got to do a lot of homework and watch Quade play," Henry told therugbysite.com. "He's obviously a huge talent but I'm not sure how Robbie [Deans] will play him at international level. He often plays fullback in defence for the Reds and he's pretty good back there. So we've got to do a lot of homework into what he does with the ball and how others play off him and next to him. Then we've got to organise our defence to cater for that.
"Without going into too much detail," he added, wary of his side's first date with the Wallabies in Auckland on August 6. "It's the homework and then the matter of devising a plan to stop them functioning. It's easy to talk about - harder to do."
Henry's sentiments were echoed by his assistant Wayne Smith who will be hoping his backs will hold sway in their two meetings with Australia before the World Cup. "You can't really nullify him for the whole game because he is such a good player," he explained.
"You need to look at how you can limit his opportunities as a team. For example, how do you make the ball unstable and nullify the others around him. You are not going to stop him from off loading the ball so you have got to make the sure the off load is not dangerous by limiting who he can pass to. But you can't look after him totally so you work out a plan and get everyone believing in the plan."
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