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i’ll Show My Potential – Cooper

i’ll Show My Potential – Cooper

Vernon Cooper has few fears on the rugby field, but Wales’ latest international player admits to a few nerves in the buildup to Saturday’s Test against Canada at the Millennium Stadium.

Llanelli lock Cooper – Wales’ 1,009th international – earns a start against the Canadians after strong performances for the Scarlets this season – many in his new role as captain.

Wales coach Steve Hansen has made three changes to the starting XV that demolished Fiji a week ago, bringing in Cooper for Rob Sidoli, British Lion and Llanelli hooker Robin McBryde and Cardiff centre Jamie Robinson for the injured Tom Shanklin.

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Cooper said he was expecting the first-Test nerves to kick in soon.

‘Not a lot keeps me awake at night, but this will. I’m like every Welsh kid – as soon as you pick up a rugby ball you dream of running out on to the National Stadium.’

Cooper has been in national contention for several seasons, with injuries preventing an earlier Test debut, and he said that after missing the first two Autumn internationals, he did start thinking he wouldn’t get a run.
‘It’s been a very long two and a-half weeks,’ Cooper said.
‘Steve Hansen said I was going to be involved at some stage, and he’s been true to his word. I was getting nervous – I was the last uncapped player in the squad who hadn’t had a game.

‘I’m looking forward to it – hopefully, I’ll show people my potential and who knows after that?’

Cooper, who said he was inspired by fellow Llanelli forward Dafydd Jones’ superb debut against Fiji, isn’t looking as far ahead as the Test against the All Blacks.
‘That’s everyone’s dream, isn’t it – to play New Zealand. I couldn’t put into words how I’d feel if I got a run. It would be an awesome experience.’

Coach Hansen said he was being careful to keep his players’ feet on the ground after the 44-point win over Fiji.

‘The match against Canada comes after a tremendous performance and you’re always most vulnerable after success.

‘You’ve got to keep the momentum going when you’ve got it. There are still a couple of questions we want answered by this team.’

Four players – Shanklin, Gavin Thomas, Steve Williams and Craig Morgan – were unavailable for selection through injury.
Wales: R Williams (Cardiff); M Jones (Llanelli), J Robinson (Cardiff), S Parker (Pontypridd), G Thomas (Bridgend); S Jones (Llanelli), D Peel (Llanelli); I Thomas (Llanelli), R McBryde (Llanelli), B Evans (Swansea), V Cooper (Llanelli), G Llewellyn (Neath), D Jones (Llanelli), C Charvis (Swansea, capt), M Williams (Cardiff).
Replacements: M Davies (Pontypridd), G Jenkins (Pontypridd), M Owen (Pontypridd), S Quinnell (Llanelli), R Powell (Cardiff), I Harris (Cardiff), N Walne (Cardiff).
Related stories:
Who is Vernon Cooper?
Llanelli have confidence in Cooper
Canadian coach in confident mood

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