Australia’s Quade Cooper hails England star Marcus Smith and hopes they can ‘build friendship’ because ‘we are all here to help each other grow’ as pair get set to lock horns in diplomatic three Test series
- Australia’s Quade Cooper has defended his friendship with Marcus Smith
- The Wallabies No10 says he can ‘not speak highly enough’ of the England fly-half
- Cooper has vowed to keep helping out Smith despite the fierce rivalry
- England will begin their test series against Australia in Perth on Saturday July 2
Diplomacy continued to dominate the build-up to England’s series with Australia yesterday as Quade Cooper vowed to keep helping out Marcus Smith.
England were braced for an onslaught of hostility Down Under but the Wallabies, who are based 2,700 miles away on the Gold Coast, are yet to engage.
Sunday night’s State of Origin rivalry has dominated the talk in Perth, where hotels have been packed out with rugby league fans wearing blue and maroon.
Australia’s Quade Cooper (pictured) has defended his friendship with Marcus Smith
Cooper says he established a good replationship with Smith (pictured) through social media
Wallabies coach Davie Rennie heaped praise on England in yesterday’s The West Australian newspaper, predicting a different beast to the team who lost to the Barbarians. No 10 Cooper has been offering tips to Smith over the last year and the mercurial playmaker said he would continue sharing information for the sport’s greater good.
‘One of my best mates, Ben Tapuai, was playing for Harlequins and I followed them quite closely,’ said Cooper. ‘Marcus followed me on Instagram and we ended up trading a few messages. I am big fan of the way he plays. He is a great kid, a great man and my friends in that team could not speak highly enough of him.
‘I just love the way he plays. He is a great talent and hopefully we can build that friendship over the next couple of years. When I was young you couldn’t just send Carlos Spencer a DM and chat to him. The luxury now is we have access to those people. It is about being able to have communication both ways and being able to learn from them and understand what goes through their head, what makes them tick. That is a brilliant thing to have.
‘We are all here to help each other grow. If you are trying to hold things back from people and trying to stunt someone else’s growth, that is such a negative way to live. If I can help someone progress or someone can help me progress, those are the kind of people I want to be around.’
Cooper heaped praise on the England man and insisted he ‘loves the way he plays’
Smith starred in England’s win over Australia in November and he is plotting to extend his country’s seven-year unbeaten run in the fixture. He is expected to double up with Owen Farrell in a 10-12 midfield combination and Cooper believes he will benefit from having a second playmaker.
‘They are extremely talented players in their own right,’ said Cooper. ‘Having Owen outside Marcus would take a lot of pressure off him in terms of game-calling, being his eyes and ears.
‘Having two genuine No 10s makes for a difficult task trying to work out where the main ball-playing source is coming from. They’ll work it out and we’ll have to try to work it out ourselves.’
Cooper is looking forward to a reunion with his old mentor Eddie Jones (pictured) in the series
Cooper is looking forward to a reunion with his old mentor Eddie Jones, who handed the fly-half his debut for the Queensland Reds in 2007. ‘I have nothing but respect and gratitude for Eddie, especially the way he brought us through,’ said Cooper.
‘We had to learn hard and fast, myself and Will Genia. When we came through we were 17 or 18 and just thrown straight into Super Rugby. We went through some of the most gruelling training sessions. From a mental standpoint he was always looking for ways to test you.
‘He was a taskmaster. I heard he has mellowed a bit but he has a wealth of experience, his sides are always well prepared and every international side he has been a part of has been successful.’
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