Former New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has revealed he was impressed with Quade Cooper’s attitude as he led Australia to victory last Sunday.
The 28-26 triumph over South Africa on the Gold Coast saw Cooper slot 23 points via one conversion and seven penalties, the latter being the match-winner.
Once the villain for the All Blacks in their regular duels several years ago, the returning pivot Cooper had been absent from international rugby since 2017.
But a recall to Australia’s squad under head coach Dave Rennie led to a start against the Boks and his showing did not go unnoticed by an excited Hansen.
“There is no doubt he is a good thing,” he told Fox Sports in Australia, speaking as an ambassador for the World 12s, which could kick off next August.
“He’s always been a major talent Quade, but he has probably got in his own way and I think with maturity and age he’s turned into a lovely young man.
“The way he spoke was impressive.”
Hansen added: “He’s become totally a team man, he understands his own identity, which I think is massive, a lot of times our young players, and older ones for that matter, come into the game and all they’ve got is rugby and when the rugby doesn’t go well then they struggle.
“He understands his identity not just as a rugby player, but as a brother, a friend, and he organises his rugby around those identities as well, and he’s very secure in who he is and you saw that in his performance because better people make better players.
“He came out and he was very confident in what he did, he was self-assured, without being arrogant really about it, you could see that he was happy in that environment and when you get a player like that with his talent, they’re hard to stop and wasn’t it wonderful to see the fairytale at the end.”
Australia will meet South Africa once again this Saturday, with Argentina taking on New Zealand the other Rugby Championship fixture at Suncorp Stadium.