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Cooper won't let Carter and Crusaders get to him

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James Mortimer     16 Jul 2013     Getty Images

It will be the most eagerly awaited selection decision coming into Australia's showdown with the All Blacks to kick off The Investec Rugby Championship.

Will Quade, a favourite of McKenzie, be able to put aside recent history and be able to make a statement against a Dan Carter led Crusaders?

Will he start at number ten at Eden Park in a month's time?

McKenzie, as loyal as he is, will be loathe to rely on Cooper in his first Test as Wallabies coach if the Crusaders romp to victory this weekend during the Super Rugby Qualifiers.

Indeed, that will be the great challenge for Link, to get a player who looks imperious on the Super Rugby stage to be able to translate his tricks to Test rugby.

Recent individual history might favour Cooper and the Reds, with Quade having a three from four record against Crusaders teams, but other factors - such as the seven-time champions being essentially unbeatable at this time of the season, while Queensland have not won in Christchurch since 1999 - will be in support of Todd Blackadder and his troops.

Cooper denied to Fox Sports Australia it was a Wallabies number ten job trial for him.

"The Crusaders have a lot of All Blacks and put pressure on like the All Blacks, but no way am I looking at this as a rehearsal for anything," Cooper said.

"I don't let my mind wander to down the track. This is solely about the Reds, going to Christchurch to beat them and our whole campaign which is built around winning the Super Rugby final."

While careful not to give the Crusaders extra motivation, Cooper said the Reds game suited playing the seven-time champions.

"The Crusaders are an excellent team but we are not frightened of playing our natural game against them, which is very important," Cooper said.

"To scramble in defence and stick with teams really shows our attitude. Like against NSW, we have been able to come out on the right side of tight results even without always playing our best footy."

The head to head with Carter will be critical however, for despite curious debates over recent years, the All Blacks first five-eighth has established history and pedigree.

Cooper would need to perform at the highest level for several years to genuinely force Carter comparisons, who is the current IRB World Player of the Year.

"Dan Carter is a class act," Cooper admitted.

"He wins games by doing the things he does very well without trying to be too flashy. Whenever he is in a Crusaders team, they pick up a gear purely because of the mindset and confidence he creates. We know how tough that makes them this weekend."

Despite history given them further obstacles, one thing is for certain, Cooper and his Reds have a penchant for overcoming rugby bogeys.

"It has been motivation all through these last few seasons to knock off teams we have never beaten or win at stadiums where we haven't won. I doubt there will be much love for the Reds in Christchurch but it will be a packed house and all the boys want to get that win for the Reds."