Wallabies veteran has seen a revival in the national team’s standing at home and abroad reinforced by the 28-13 Pool A victory over Fiji
BATH – With 109 caps, Australia wing Adam Ashley-Cooper has been around the Wallabies long enough to have experienced many high and lows.
For several years up until 2014 it was all lows as Australia’s international reputation in rugby took a bit of a battering, which had dire consequences for the game domestically, and resulted in other football codes moving head of rugby in the domestic pecking order.
There is Australian rules, which has the biggest spectator attendance numbers in Australia, rugby league, which has the highest number of TV viewers, and the increasing popularity of football since the inception of the A-League and the Socceroos’ regular appearances at the World Cup after 32 years in the wilderness.
Ashley-Cooper, whose career has spanned three Rugby World Cups, admitted yesterday as he recovered from Australia’s first Rugby World Cup 2015 match – a 28-13 Pool A win over Fiji at Millennium Stadium on Sunday – that Australian rugby had been down and feeling low for some years.
“I think rugby’s standing did fall back a bit in Australia. There is a lot competition of codes in Australia –I mean, we have many successful codes going on back home –but with rugby, maybe because we haven’t been performing to our potential at international level, it has dropped off a little,” he said.
“That could have been caused by a number of things. Obviously the team wasn’t performing well, changes in the coaching staff, injuries, performance issues as well.”
Ashley-Cooper said the Australia team recognised that something had to change to revive rugby’s fortunes at home and he believed their efforts were seeing results.
“We have done a lot of work on our own identity –individually and our Team Wallaby identity – and each day at training or each week that we are playing a test, we don’t go out there to win or to lose, it’s not about the result, it’s about playing to our identity and if we do that, the results take care of themselves.
“That identity is about playing with no fear, never taking a backward step, having a physical edge, being relentless in defence and all this set of values that we believe embodies the Wallaby jersey and the Australian player.
“That has caught the eye of the Australian audience and the supporter and we’ve earned the respect again, which may have dropped off a bit.
“I’d like to think that the way we’ve been playing the past 12 months has been a bit of a catalyst. We want to inspire and entertain our fans and I’d like to think that’s what we are doing now.
“But what’s important is that we’ve picked ourselves up again and got ourselves going and are rebuilding. We are in a really good space now.”
Australia’s next Pool A match is against Uruguay on Sunday at Villa Park, Birmingham.
- World Rugby