Ashley-Cooper urged to make No.15 stand - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ashley-Cooper urged to make No.15 stand

By Ed Jackson 18/11/2009 01:13:53 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies great Matt Burke has urged Adam Ashley-Cooper to make a stand and ditch his utility tag to cement his position as Australia's premier fullback.

Burke, hailed as the world's best fullback for much of his long reign in the Australian No.15 jumper, has no doubt Ashley-Cooper is the man for the job, even though teenage star James O'Connor has played several Tests there this year.

And the 1999 World Cup winner believes Ashley-Cooper, who has again also filled gaps at centre and wing for the Brumbies and Wallabies in 2009, must tell selectors he wants to only play at fullback.

"I think the best person for the job is Ashley-Cooper, no doubt about it," Burke told AAP.

"He's safe under the high ball, got a great step, runs the ball back well. Unfortunately his demise is he's too good everywhere else.

"Sometimes you become a jack of all trades and a specialist of none.

"I think he needs to sit and say: `I want to play 15 and 15 only'.

"The other guy coming through in O'Connor, played well, yes, had a glorious start - but you need to produce that week-in, week-out and against the South Africas, and the New Zealands, which is quite a tough ask.

"I think he's (Ashley-Cooper) got to get a bit selfish and say `I want to play 15, I don't want to play wing, 13 and 12 now, because it's not doing me any favours'."

Burke says 19-year-old O'Connor would be better served learning his trade at Test level off the bench for the Wallabies, or even slotting in inside centre alongside former Western Force teammate Matt Giteau.

"When (Berrick) Barnes went down I thought they would have put him at 12," he said.

"He's played 12 at the Force with Giteau and having that combination would have been quite good for him.

"Fifteen is a lonely spot sometimes, you can be out there by yourself and no doubt they're going to stick up high balls and try and bash you at the same time.

"There's no doubt he (O'Connor) is a courageous player, does well and you can see he's fast on his feet and the rest of it.

"But ... that age factor comes into it a little bit, and making the right decisions at one level and then going to the next level just is sometimes a little bit different.

"He will get there no doubt about it. He's a special player, but perhaps the best way for him to experience a Test match at the highest level is coming off the bench."

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