Australia 25-20 New Zealand, Brisbane, August 27
Cooper cleared for World Cup assault
August 28, 2011
Australia's Quade Cooper comes to blows with New Zealand's Richie McCaw during Saturday's Tri-Nations decider in Brisbane © Getty Images
Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper has been cleared of kneeing All Blacks captain Richie McCaw during Saturday's Tri-Nations decider in Brisbane.
Cooper was cited in the wake of Australia's historic 25-20 victory at the Suncorp Stadium that saw the hosts capture the southern hemisphere crown for the first time since 2001.
But the charge was swiftly dismissed by SANZAR judicial officer Jannie Lubbe on Sunday morning meaning the 23-year-old is free to spearhead Australia's Rugby World Cup campaign that kicks off against Italy on September 11.
''I'm just very grateful and happy for a fair hearing and I'm just looking forward to getting on with rugby and focussing on the World Cup,'' he told AAP. ''Any time that you have to face the judiciary it's going to be a sleepless night. I'm just happy to get a fair hearing and now I can get a good sleep.''
TV replays showed Cooper clearly catching McCaw with his knee as he left a ruck but the playmaker explained there was no intention on his part. ''There were bodies everywhere and ... it's a contact sport and blokes are going to come into contact with each other,'' he said.
Cooper also denied suggestions of a long-running rift with McCaw following a clash between the two during the Wallabies victory in Hong Kong last year and subsequent niggle during the Super Rugby season and the All Blacks victory in Auckland in this year's Tri-Nations.
''It's (now) a good time to think back and celebrate winning the Tri Nations after a 10-year drought,'' he said. ''Last night I was happy for the team but I had other things on my mind.''
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