The prolific try-scoring 9 bagged his ninth try of the season across the Pro14 and Champions Cup, getting Ulster off to a hot start when his opening try took the visitors out to a 10-3 lead.
It continues an emphatic purple patch of form for the 29-year-old just as incumbent Conor Murray struggles to re-gain the form that saw him considered the premier halfback in the world before his neck injury.
Murray hasn’t been poor but Cooney’s exploits have been irresistible leading to calls for the upstart halfback to made Ireland’s halfback during the Six Nations. Many Irish fans believe Cooney isn’t just the best 9 in Ireland, but the whole of Europe.
This rugby season is really showing how great John Cooney is … he is one of the best 9’s at the moment ??
— Francesca Dunne (@cesca_dunne_) January 11, 2020
John Cooney…Ireland’s Number 9, Ireland, Ireland’s Number 9 #suftum
— Ben Lambert (@benlambert514) January 11, 2020
— Charlie Havelin (@CNHavelin) January 11, 2020
— Shane O Sullivan (@Sullyt1000) January 11, 2020
John Cooney has to start the 6 nations far and away the best SH in the country at the moment
— Neil Byrne (@neil_byrne) January 11, 2020
John Cooney > Conor Murray … Cooney has to be the starting 9 for the 6 nations this year!
— stewart smith (@mini_stew) January 11, 2020
— Cian Donovan (@CianDonovan12) January 11, 2020
— mark1189 (@Mark1189Mark) January 11, 2020
Waters wet, grass is green, and John Cooney scores fucking tries
— Sam Nicholl (@sam2nicholl) January 11, 2020
— Liam Kearns (@Kearns1010) January 11, 2020
The fans aren’t the only ones to throw support behind Ulster’s halfback. Discussing Ireland’s squad on Off the Ball, Irish legend Brian O’Driscoll said it would be a ‘brave’ decision to leave out Cooney.
“Obviously the most talked about position is probably scrum-half. In some ways, it would be a brave call not to pick John Cooney because he’s been a stand-out performer in Europe,” he said.
O’Driscoll said Andy Farrell has to see past the tried-and-true Murray to select the form player which is Cooney.
“But in reality, John Cooney is the form player that warrants selection.”
Joey Carbery to miss the entire Six Nations:
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now