Robbie Deans reckons Quade Cooper will have no problem coping with the pressure of a World Cup semi-final against the All Blacks in Auckland.
Cooper was awful against the Springboks. He didn’t get much quality ball, but when he was in possession he looked rattled and indecisive. The occasion looked to get to him.
Deans disagreed: ‘He is a pretty resilient character. He’s delighted, as we all are, that we got through that challenge. He was part of that, he did some good things within that and was the point of difference on occasions.’
Deans added that lesser players may have struggled in a similar situation but was confident Cooper was mentally strong enough to produce a match-winning performance against the All Blacks.
‘You get high profile players and they get an inordinate amount of scrutiny and an inordinate amount of reinforcement when things go well,’ Deans told the media.
‘That can create challenges with them when things don’t go quite so well. If their piece of it isn’t what they’d hope it would be, it can bring mental baggage.
‘But I think Quade has actually come a long way, in terms of his understanding around that this is a team game and it’s about helping the team to get up.
‘He did that and he deserves his piece of enjoyment off the back of that. It’s a great risk for players. They actually miss a lot of what the game is all about when they get distracted by their little piece within it. So we’re confident, he’ll bounce back. He is a resilient character.
‘Clearly he wouldn’t have been happy with his performance, but everybody made mistakes, some of our best made mistakes. But collectively they worked their way through it.’
Deans confirmed that all the players were expected to be available for Sunday’s semi-final.