Deans relief as Cooper cleared to start World Cup

Australia coach Robbie Deans breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after playmaker Quade Cooper was cleared by a match review panel having been cited for dropping his knee into Richie McCaw’s head during the 25-20 win over the All Blacks in Brisbane.

The second-half incident in Saturday’s occasionally ill-tempered match at Lang Park sparked a quick remonstration from the All Blacks, who later accused the fly-half of landing a number of cheap shots in matches past.

Cooper was suspended for two matches in last year’s Tri-Nations after lifting South Africa’s Morne Steyn in a dangerous tackle at Lang Park and the Wallabies went on to lose both of their games against the All Blacks without their mercurial fly-half.

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While ensuring Cooper will start the World Cup, the decision is unlikely to rest well with the All Blacks camp and won’t help frosty relations between the fly-half and the All Blacks skipper.

“I’m just very grateful and happy for a fair hearing and I’m just looking forward to getting on with rugby and focus on the World Cup,” Cooper said. “It’s a contact sport and it’s a matter of just getting on with the game.”

Australia led Saturday’s game 20-3 at half-time thanks to tries from Will Genia and Radike Samo but New Zealand hit back to level the scores as Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu crossed for tries.

However, a Kurtley Beale try sealed the Wallabies’ first win over the All Blacks in Brisbane for 19 years.

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