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All Black coach calls for Cooper taunts to end

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All Blacks coach Steve Hansen called on New Zealand Rugby fans not to boo Australia’s Australia’s Quade Cooper during Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test in Wellington.

The All Black coach added that mercurial playmaker Cooper who was born in New Zealand but plays for Australia is “not a bad bloke”.

Cooper has been a hate figure for many New Zealand rugby fans since annointing himself “public enemy number one” when the country hosted the 2011 World Cup.

Not only does the New Zealand-born number 10 choose to play for arch-rival Australia, he also needled the All Blacks’ revered skipper Richie McCaw in the lead-up to the 2011 tournament, including a knee to the back of the head in a Tri-Nations match.

Since then, his every touch of the ball has been greeted with jeers and catcalls at New Zealand grounds, with some spectators believing the pressure causes the 25-year-old to crack.

Hansen said the joke was getting stale after two years, and both he and the New Zealand team wanted it to stop.

“Two things, firstly we are probably all over it. Secondly, he probably brought it all on himself, but it would be good if we all got over it,” Hansen told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test in Wellington.

“I don’t boo him and I’ll continue not to boo him. I think he’s a good player and not a bad bloke either when you have a quiet chat to him.”

All Blacks Cory Jane and Israel Dagg have made similar pleas for New Zealand fans to lay off Cooper in the past, to no avail.

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