Ashley-Cooper admits 'a lot on the line' for Australia today
Adam Ashley-Cooper admits there is “a lot on the line” for Australia as he prepares to make his 75th appearance for the Wallabies at Twickenham. The utility back, 28, is one of only five survivors from the 35-18 defeat in the last Cook Cup match in November 2010, when Chris Ashton’s superb second try capped a memorable display.
Ashton returns to England’s starting XV today after a one-game suspension but the under-pressure Wallabies coach, Robbie Deans, is more concerned about his own players responding from the dismal 33-6 loss against France last Saturday, making four changes to his team.
One of which is Ashley-Cooper, who will start at outside-centre today having been on the wing in Paris. Filling in wherever needed, he has been an important part of the Wallabies setup under Deans and is confident that the team can pull together and produce a positive, attacking performance.
“They [England] got us back in 2010 so hopefully we can turn it around,” he said. “It’s going to be tough but hopefully we can come away with a result. As Australians we want to play with the ball, we want to attack. For us, it’s about doing it in the right positions of the field and when we are presented with the opportunities to attack we have a real go.
“Hopefully we put ourselves in the right positions and do enough hard work early to allow us to do that, to give us enough quick enough ball for the likes of Kurtley [Beale] and [Ben] Tapuai, Berrick [Barnes] and Digby [Ioane] out wide.”
He continued: “We let ourselves down last week. There were a lot of Australians who got up early to watch us back home, there were a lot of Australians that turned up at the Stade de France to watch us and we let them down, we let ourselves down.
“We want to respond. There’s a lot on the line, there’s the IRB rankings, we’ve got the Lions next year so it’s important for us to get through a successful tour here.”
In the wake of the defeat to France there has been severe criticism of Australia, with Deans the subject of a scathing attack from the former wing David Campese, despite holding the world champions New Zealand to an 18-18 draw in October.
Ashley-Cooper admits that the criticism may have hurt certain players, but remains convinced that the squad is still fighting as one.
He said: “We’re a pretty tight group, it’s never going to be rosy and there’s always going to be critics. There’s always going to be criticism from your friends and family, so it’s no different to anything else. It’s just about getting on with it and more than anything using it as motivation.
“I’m sure there were a few guys who were a little bit upset with the comments made but for me it wasn’t a distraction. I will just get on with my job, go out there and prove everyone wrong.
The pressure on Deans could reach new heights should England prevail once again, but from within the camp there is no sign of discontent. “I’m playing my 75th game this week so he certainly hasn’t destroyed my career,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“He [Deans] is considered our mate, he’s considered part of the team and we have a real focus on looking after each other and staying tight, more than anything on the back of a loss like that you really want to stick tight together.”