Wallabies, Tahs are Ashley-Cooper’s focus

By Ben Horne,

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    Adam Ashley-Cooper says the lure of overseas rugby can wait until he’s given everything he can to achieving glory at home with the Wallabies and Waratahs.

    Turning 29 next week, the Test star was tempted more than ever to switch to Europe or Japan.

    But he said his decision to sign a new two-year deal to remain in Australia was motivated by the nagging feeling there’s unfinished business at home.

    For Sunday’s must-win Super Rugby clash with the Blues at Allianz Stadium, Ashley-Cooper forms a new-look midfield combination alongside Rob Horne.

    Horne will start in the less familiar position of inside centre with Ashley-Cooper at No.13, however it’s clear the two will interchange throughout the match.

    Two of the best one-on-one defenders in the Waratahs line-up, the pair are on a mission to double-team the Blues’ attacking spark – outside centre Rene Ranger.

    But in a broader sense, Ashley-Cooper yearns for a Super Rugby title and feels it’s far too early to be leaving the Waratahs, with new coach Michael Cheika rejuvenating his enthusiasm.

    At Test level, he has his eyes on a third World Cup appearance in 2015 and achieving 100 Test caps.

    “I feel that I have a bit left at the international level so there’s a lot to stay for,” Ashley-Cooper told AAP.

    “(Cheika) has certainly mixed things up here at the Waratahs. It’s just helped change the culture of the team.

    “There was a lot of temptation from overseas, particularly Japan and Europe.

    “There’s a lot to play for over there – a change in culture and a financial decision and an overall change in career. But at the end of the day, it came back to knowing I had a little bit longer here.”

    The Waratahs and Australian rugby in general have a mountain of stars coming off contract at the end of this year.

    But this week, Sekope Kepu and Ashley-Cooper have re-signed with NSW, and Melbourne halfback Nick Phipps has announced he’s heading north to Tah-land.

    NSW captain Dave Dennis hopes Ashley-Cooper’s show of faith in the direction being taken by the Waratahs will influence other off-contract players to stay.

    “Guys like Adam and Kepu, they have a lot of influence on the group in different ways,” Dennis said.

    “So I’m hoping that it will have an effect on those guys who are unsure at the moment.”

    Ashley-Cooper is looking forward to going into battle with Horne.

    “Horney’s a great defender one-on-one. I’m certainly going to need him inside me this week against the likes of Rene Ranger. He’s a pretty dangerous player,” Ashley-Cooper said.

    “We’re both very similar players. We’re both usually 13s so that certainly makes it a lot easier defending together.

    “There will be that potential to mix it up and interchange so we are hoping that works and brings a little bit of creativity to the backline.”

    Horne missed the opening weeks of Super Rugby with a hamstring problem but said the Waratahs and not a Wallabies return against the British and Irish Lions is what’s on his mind.

    NSW Waratahs: Israel Folau, Peter Betham, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Drew Mitchell, Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin, Pat McCutcheon, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis (capt), Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, Paddy Ryan, John Ulugia, Benn Robinson. Res: Luke Holmes, Sekope Kepu, Mitchell Chapman, Jed Holloway, Matt Lucas, Ben Volavola, Tom Kingston.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • Roar Guru

      March 23rd 2013 @ 2:29am
      jeznez said | March 23rd 2013 @ 2:29am | ! Report

      I generally try to ignore the backs – and am at the 7s just wishing someone would pack a scrum but am a little excited that finally Horne is 12 to AAC’s 13.

      • Roar Guru

        March 23rd 2013 @ 9:47am
        AlBo said | March 23rd 2013 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        Agreed. Horne’s attributes are far better suited to 12. This would almost be my idea backline (not including injured players). Still would like to see Lucas get a proper run at 9.

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 2:41am
      Malo said | March 23rd 2013 @ 2:41am | ! Report

      AAC has great heart, he always turns up and is an underrated player for the Wallabies and tahs. Not quite at his best this year though but am optimistic he is on the way up.

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 7:07am
      Ra said | March 23rd 2013 @ 7:07am | ! Report

      With so much flair around, available and putting their hands up for Test spots in the Aussie back line there needs to be a rock in the midfield to hold it all together and I see AAC as being that linchpin

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 7:16am
      Ra said | March 23rd 2013 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      I dunno why Mitchell hasn’t been tried at 15. His superior rugby instincts to Folau would be a fair reason to swap them around I would have thought.
      The Tah’s Horne AAC midfield combination could be the Aussie combo. Let’s see what Ranger can do about that.

      • March 23rd 2013 @ 9:44am
        Daz said | March 23rd 2013 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Mitchell, Horne, AAC. Great! We have three players there who when they get the ball are singularly focussed on how their beautiful, swan diving, try scoring exploits will look on replays rather than executing plays and setting up team mates. And sure there are times when you have to seize the opportunity and go yourself. It’s an attitudinal thing. I always played under the truism that a star team would always beat a team of stars. And that is the problem with Australian rugby and the Waratahs in particular. The Waratahs are a team studded with stars but they are incapable of subjugating their own egos for something bigger. The success of the team.

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 9:33am
      adsa said | March 23rd 2013 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      A Horne/AAC centre combo for the Wallyb,s would be a disaster.

      • March 23rd 2013 @ 12:42pm
        RedsNut said | March 23rd 2013 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

        I have to agree adsa.

        Both take the ball and isolate themselves, so loosing the ball to a turnover or penalty for not releasing.
        And when was the last time AAC in particular passed the ball to his winger?

        • Roar Guru

          March 23rd 2013 @ 6:27pm
          Mick Gold Coast QLD said | March 23rd 2013 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

          You’re right RedsNut (and Daz up there a bit).

          Adam Two-Fathers has done little for several seasons now, apart from lose the ball – oh, wait, he scored his first try last weekend for 14 matches, thus proving that going it alone eventually pays off now and then.

          Immigrant Deans was lumbered with the contracted players the ARU dished up for him, including the likes of Two-Fathers. Immigrant White has not been so constrained and we can look well at the immediacy of his results from bringing on new young players down in Canberra.

          The ARU hasn’t noticed though – this week they resigned the dill for for two more years. The reason why is quite unclear.

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 5:14pm
      Red Block said | March 23rd 2013 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

      strange isn’t it? That the two players who are criiticised the most, Kepu and AAC, by Tahs supporters are the first players to be resigned.
      What next? Barnes and Timani too?

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