Ashley-Cooper a star in own right: Tahs

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    Waratahs recruit Adam Ashley-Cooper might wear Kurtley Beale’s old jersey this Super Rugby season, but team-mates argue there’s no way the versatile Wallaby is filling anyone’s shoes.

    Ashley-Cooper wasn’t expected at pre-season training until next Monday, but ended his holiday early to start preparations for NSW a week early.

    His eagerness to make an immediate impression is an encouraging sign for the Waratahs, who are adjusting to life without one of the game’s most potent attacking weapons in Beale.

    Although no decision has been made on where the former Brumby will line up in the backline, there’s no doubt he and playmaker Berrick Barnes are the star power the Waratahs will be relying on this season.

    However, NSW centre Rob Horne made it clear Ashley-Cooper, one of the Wallabies best throughout last year’s World Cup, isn’t replacing anyone.

    “I’m not sure he needs to fill any shoes. In his own right he’s a pretty special talent so he’ll bring something different to the group,” said Horne.

    “To have him come back a week earlier, it’s definitely a good sign and it’s good for all the guys who have been training to see his work ethic and how he goes about his business.

    “It’s a little bit different without Kurt, you get used to his energy being around, but in saying that … you can’t help but feel the enthusiasm and competitiveness in the squad.”

    Fellow utility Lachie Turner says the Waratahs won’t lose any strength in their backline with Ashley-Cooper coming on board.

    “I think people forget that Coopie’s played double the caps for Australia (that Beale has),” said Turner.

    “He played every minute of the World Cup, he’s got the fastest hat-trick in World Cup history so he’s no attacking slouch and his defensive work and the work he does under the high ball is phenomenal.

    “I know Coopie will do more than just fill the gaps, he’ll thrive in whatever position you put him in.

    Turner also tipped captaincy candidate Barnes to have the best season of his career so far.

    “I think Berrick’s in a really good spot at the moment,” Turner said.

    “The way he finished last year and got through those personal battles (related to repeated concussions) he came back far stronger than he’s ever been. I think we’ll see the best year he’s ever had.”

    Turner said he’s happy to play anywhere in the backline, but would ideally love to push Ashley-Cooper out of the No.15 shirt.

    Both Horne and Turner are confident NSW are adjusting well to life under new coach Michael Foley and without core players Beale, inspirational captain Phil Waugh and the experienced Al Baxter and Luke Burgess.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (40)

    • January 13th 2012 @ 8:45am
      kingplaymaker said | January 13th 2012 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      AAC had the most appalling year until right at the end against Wales, he seemed to recover some of his old attacking panache. We’ll have to see whether he had genuinely recpatured form or only for that match.

    • January 13th 2012 @ 9:53am
      Gary Russell-Sharam said | January 13th 2012 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      I too will watch with interest the forth coming season. AAC form to me was not impressive last year and the only reason he played so much was that I think he is a favourite iof the Coach. IMO AAC is a really good Super player and was a really good Wallaby before last season, He just dropped over the edge last season and maybe we may have seen the best of him. I would hope that I am mistaken because at his best he is a brilliant player. With the players that are coming through in the last season and with the inevitable up and comers appearing this season it will be much harder for AAC to hold his position. Incidently I think his shift to the Waratahs was the best move for him at this point in his career, he had grown stale at the Brumbies and with a new club that just might be the catalyst to rejuvenate his performance. The combination of Barnes and AAC could reek some havoc on other super sides

    • January 13th 2012 @ 9:55am
      jameswm said | January 13th 2012 @ 9:55am | ! Report

      I’d probably play him at 13, with Horne ar 12 and the popular Tommy Carter on the bench. I’d give Bernard Foley a crack at the 15 spot.

      I think we mainly agree know who the best 6 players are to cover 10-15 (and for me it includes Foley, with Barnes, Horne, AAC, Mitchell and Turner), it’s just a matter of where. Foley can play 10/12 too, but I’d rather he be out of the limelight and pressure, like the way Beale thrived at 15.

      With their half-back, who is an exceptional prospect and a significant try-scorer, they’re certainly looking better than they have for a few years. The pack is usually strong, but depends a bit on whether Rocky, Palu, TPN, Robinson, Timani etc stay fit and in form. I wonder where Mumm will fit in to the captaincy, when I see him as a bench player (Rocky at 6, and Timani and Douglas ahead of him at lock).

      Heck, I’ll just call 2012 the year of the Waratah now.

      • January 13th 2012 @ 10:16am
        Big Steve said | January 13th 2012 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        and with vickerman and dennis Mumm shouldnt even be on the bench.

        • January 13th 2012 @ 10:25am
          jameswm said | January 13th 2012 @ 10:25am | ! Report

          Geez forgot about them, esp Vicks. So forwards at full strength like this

          1. Robinson
          2. TPN
          3. Kepu
          4. Timani
          5. Vickerman
          6. Elsom
          7. Alcock (please, keep McCutcheon away)
          8. Palu
          16. Fitzpatrick
          17. Ryan/Tilse (oh for Palmer)
          18. Mumm/Douglas
          19. Dennis

          Bloody fair 12-14 forwards to have to be honest. You’d rotate a lot of positions throughout the season.

          • Roar Guru

            January 13th 2012 @ 5:46pm
            B-Rock said | January 13th 2012 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

            Good call – I had the exact same pack below – ditch Mumm and Tilse altogether though

      • Roar Guru

        January 13th 2012 @ 1:15pm
        Who Needs Melon said | January 13th 2012 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

        Let’s start pmumping up the expectations once again eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

        Seriously though: I think Beale is good for the Rebels and AAC is good for the Tahs. The Rebels desperately needed some more attacking panache, flair and creativity and they should get that in Beale (and JOC). As big a loss as Beale is, I think the Tahs will benefit from AAC being a guy who is a bit more ‘solid’, less flighty and more willing to just solidly hit it up.

        Having said that, AAC has been known to just bomb it in the air and hope WAAAAY too often. That’s something he’s got to curb. Just put in under your arm and run, son – you look and do so much better when you do.

        • January 13th 2012 @ 1:32pm
          jameswm said | January 13th 2012 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

          True Melon and that’s why I prefer AAC at 13.

          2012 – the year of the Tah. Look how strong they are on paper – do the others even have a chance?

    • January 13th 2012 @ 10:04am
      kingplaymaker said | January 13th 2012 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      AAC perhaps exhibits a tendency that seems common these days: for a player with well over 50 international caps to decline late in their 20s. So high a standard are the Tri-nations and Super rugby that the mental and physical exhaustion seems to blunt their edge earlier than might be expected.

      It’s odd how with the Queensland Reds there are always new young prospects appearing, whereas when considering the Waratahs it’s the usual suspects. Surely as the only team in the biggest rugby state, they should be overflowing with brilliant young players? Or is this actually the case but there is such a log-jam of established figures that they can’t even get a chance in the squad?

      • January 13th 2012 @ 10:20am
        Big Steve said | January 13th 2012 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        KPM, i thinks its much more of the established players blocking them. displacing mitchell, turner, barnes etc means you are a pretty good player. Where as i cant even remember most of who was at QLD before the last years back line. I remember some pretty average players, shicofscke, Morgen T. so i think it was easier to get into that side.

        • January 13th 2012 @ 10:29am
          jameswm said | January 13th 2012 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          Exactly. Tough to get a locking position for example with Vickerman, Timani, Douglas, Dennis and Mumm all there. They’re bringing through younger guys like Foley, Pakalani, Kingston etc, and the guys in the extended squad, who are Grayson Hart (Southern Districts), Tevita Metuisela (Manly), Lotu Taukeiaho (Randwick), Lopeti Timani (Southern Districts), Nathan Trist (Sydney University).

          • January 13th 2012 @ 10:37am
            kingplaymaker said | January 13th 2012 @ 10:37am | ! Report

            Big Steve and jameswm this of course shows the absurdity of only having one team in NSW: who knows how good young players are who can’t even get a look in now: they could well be better than the established players but they won’t get a chance with such a bottleneck of older characters.

            Even in Queensland things are beginning to look absurd: they had A.Faiingaa, Tapuai, Will Chambers, Harris all in the centres last year doubtless blocking out young prospects.

            If only there were a Western Sydney and Gold Coast team to solve this problem, and who knows there could be a whole lot of players unable to make the NSW and Queensland squads who could fill up most of these teams without resorting to league converts, foreign imports.

            • January 13th 2012 @ 10:51am
              Big Steve said | January 13th 2012 @ 10:51am | ! Report

              that would be nice KPM. From club last year i really liked kingston, i think he could be a really good player and my be a long term solution to 13 if horne continues with injuries. Trist has been one of the best outside backs in the shute shield for years, not sure if he can make the step up, and if there are not alot of injuries we wont ever find out.

    • January 13th 2012 @ 10:28am
      kerry said | January 13th 2012 @ 10:28am | ! Report

      ACC since selected has played almost every super rugby game possible with very little injury, but last 2-3 seasons has managed average 1.5 tries a season, whereas good outside backs are scoring 6- 8 tries every year. Check the stats and not that he doesnt see the ball, think he was outside centre last year.

      When ACC does get the pill he is selfish and attacks the line in vain/holds on rather than looking for support players, lacks team vision and lucky to be playing at super 15 level.

    • January 13th 2012 @ 10:39am
      kingplaymaker said | January 13th 2012 @ 10:39am | ! Report

      Kerry I would agree with that: in the past his selfishness wouldn’t matter so much as he would often be making breaks to compensate. But last year he would niether make breaks nor pass the ball on, thereby squandering much of the Wallabies possession.

      • January 13th 2012 @ 11:31am
        kerry said | January 13th 2012 @ 11:31am | ! Report

        ACC was querried some years back after a club game on the North Shore why he does not “look” and pass to his support and apparently the reply was that his mentor had told him “Ashley when you see the line just go for it” , but can’t can see the line from everywhere on the field.

        This practice has earned ACC some tries, his best against the AB’S around 2008, but agree if he LOOKED more rather than just running ” for the line” the teams he has represented may have scored MORE tries and WON MORE games/tests.

        At 13 I am not sure if he even thinks to draw his man and then flick to the flying supporters heading to touch down in the corners,. At full back he does not have Matt Burke type skills and on the wing others are better.

        • January 13th 2012 @ 11:49am
          kingplaymaker said | January 13th 2012 @ 11:49am | ! Report

          Kerry Conrad Smith used to be perfect for this. He would make breaks and then immediately look to set up players around him. sadly this season he has lost the ability to make those breaks.

          AAC never really looked around him in his own break-making days however as you say.

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