Ashley-Cooper staying Down Under
Wallabies and Waratahs back Adam Ashley-Cooper has re-signed to stay in Australia until after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
He becomes the third player to commit to Australian Rugby and the Waratahs for the week, following on from prop Sekope Kepu and halfback Nick Phipps, with the latter having confirmed a switch from the Melbourne Rebels to the Waratahs for next season.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says the trio of re-signings reflects a vote of confidence from the players concerned in the future of Australian Rugby, and the opportunities that staying at home provides.
"It's a good indicator. The players are the most important resource the game has, and they do have other alternatives around contract time," said Deans.
"By committing their futures to Australia, they are showing confidence in the programmes. This is definitely the case with Adam."
Ashley-Cooper, who is now with the Waratahs after having appeared 78 times for the Brumbies between 2005 and 2011, has resisted overtures to move off-shore.
He cited unfinished business at Test level and in Super Rugby as primary reasons behind the decision to stay.
"I'm not done yet," said Ashley-Cooper.
"I'd like another crack at the Rugby World Cup if I can. I wouldn't mind winning Super Rugby either!
"The competition for places, after all of the injuries we had last year, has left the Wallabies in a pretty good space. I think everyone is excited about what is coming up this year with the British & Irish Lions tour, but there's a World Cup not that far away now, and goals like the Rugby Championship and especially the Bledisloe Cup in between.
"I'd hate to finish my time with the Wallabies having not had the experience of winning the Bledisloe."
29 next week; Ashley-Cooper has appeared against the All Blacks on 17 occasions, scoring six tries from those games. Only David Campese (eight) and Matthew Burke (seven) have scored more tries in Tests against New Zealand, while only 11 Australians have more than the 23 tries that Ashley-Cooper has scored in Tests for the Wallabies.
A veteran of two previous Rugby World Cup tournaments amongst his 77 Tests to date; Ashley-Cooper made his Super Rugby and Test debuts within a few months of each other in 2005.
He was the only player from any country to feature in every minute of a full seven-Test programme at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, scoring the first hat-trick of his representative career inside of an eight-minute period during Australia's win over the United States at Wellington.
Such is his versatility; he ranks highly on the Australian Test appearance charts for a number of positions, having appeared on 24 occasions at full-back (fourth), 35 in the centres (seventh), and 18 on the wing.
Just six of the Ashley-Cooper appearances have come from the bench, while the consistency of his performance has been such that he has missed just six Tests since the start of 2008.
Only 14 players have represented Australia on more occasions than has Ashley-Cooper, who became the 35th Wallaby to surpass 50 Tests when he raised that milestone against Italy at Florence on the 2010 end-of-year tour.