Cooper ready to stay Super at 15 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cooper ready to stay Super at 15

By Jim Morton 01/02/2010 07:56:04 PM Comments (0)

A simple, and deserved, acknowledgment from Robbie Deans has Adam Ashley-Cooper ready to finally drop his Mr Fix-It tag.

So impressed by Ashley-Cooper's consistent and instinctive play at fullback in late 2009, Wallabies coach Deans told the utility he'd arrived as a Test No.15.

One of five Wallabies set to make their first 2010 appearance for the Brumbies against NSW on Thursday, Ashley-Cooper is now desperate to make the position his own leading into next year's Rugby World Cup.

The 25-year-old has played centre and wing as well as fullback since making his Super rugby debut in 2005.

He's also played in four different positions at Test level for two of the last three calendar years but, after shaking off a challenge by James O'Connor, gained an extended run at fullback in the failed Grand Slam tour.

"I really started to feel comfortable," Ashley-Cooper told AAP. "Obviously doing a lot of work with Robbie during the Test season to really improve my game and become an actual fullback, and not a utility player, helped."

Although happy to be the ultimate team man, Ashley-Cooper's grand desire to be a long-term outside centre disappeared when the former All Black fullback gave him the compliment he required.

"He basically said `you're a fullback now', that's all he really needed to say and all I needed to hear," he said.

"It was pleasing in a way. I haven't had that all my professional career.

"I've always been chopping and changing, which I love, but I'm now at a stage where I have to nail one spot I think because it's only going to benefit the team.

"Staying in the one spot is always nice, it allows you to improve as a positional player."

With veteran Mark Gerrard now playing in Japan and Stirling Mortlock with a point to prove in his return from injury at outside centre, it's important Ashley-Cooper excels at No.15 for the Brumbies.

He'll start there against the Waratahs while fellow Wallabies Rocky Elsom, George Smith, Stephen Moore and Mark Chisholm were also named to return in a strong Brumbies pack.

But Test captain Elsom is under an injury cloud due to a recurring hamstring niggle which has him 50-50 to play.

With Matt Giteau (quad) racing time to be fit for the Super 14 opener against the Western Force on February 12, young playmaker Matt Toomua will start at five-eighth and Christian Lealiifano at inside centre.

BRUMBIES: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Andrew Smith, Stirling Mortlock, Christian Lealiifano, Pat McCabe, Matt Toomua, Josh Valentine; Stephen Hoiles (capt), George Smith, Rocky Elsom, Mark Chisholm, Ben Hand, Guy Shepherdson, Stephen Moore, Salesi Ma'afu. Res: Huia Edmonds, John Ulugia, Justin Harrison, Mitch Chapman, Henry Vanderglas, Patrick Phibbs, Tyrone Smith, Francis Fainifo.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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