Cooper is cleared of foul play charge

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The Independent Online

Australia coach Robbie Deans breathed a sigh of relief after playmaker Quade Cooper was cleared by a match review panel after being cited for dropping his knee into Richie McCaw's head during the Wallabies' 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 during last year's Tri-Nations after lifting South Africa's Morne Steyn in a dangerous tackle at Lang Park. The Wallabies then went on to lose both of their games against the All Blacks without their mercurial fly-half.

While ensuring Cooper will start the World Cup, the decision is unlikely to rest well with the All Blacks camp, however.

"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 yesterday.

"It's a contact sport and blokes are going to come into contact with each other and it's a matter of just getting on with the game."

Cooper has been criticised for a lack of respect after being involved in a number of exchanges with All Black captain, McCaw; he even pushed the flanker's head into the ground after the winning try in the Wallabies' Bledisloe Cup victory in Hong Kong last year.