Name: Adam Ashley-Cooper
Nick names: Coopy, Coops
Super Rugby Team: Waratahs
What got you into rugby?
I was playing league from when I was 6 to about 14. The team I was with folded and the next closest league team wasn’t accepting new players. Rugby union was then the next option without too much travel for Mum. Plus my Uncle, Graeme Bond, was playing with Brumbies so thought I would give it a go. I played colts with Northern Suburbs and fairly quickly got bumped up to first grade and went on from there. Signed with the National Academy then the Brumbies when I was 19.
So what do you think would have happened if you stayed with League?
I couldn’t say how it would have ended. I tried my hand at union and this is how it turned out.
Who do you think is your greatest influence?
My uncle (Graeme Bond – 2 Wallaby caps, 2001). He is the reason I tried rugby and pursued it as a professional career.
Did you ever play with him?
I was on bench for a Friday night club game with him. But since he played Outside centre too he came off for me to have a run. That is the closest we got.
What do you see as your greatest achievement or highlight?
There are so many. Debuting for Brumbies and playing 8 years with them was special. But then debuting for the Waratahs is also a highlight. Making my debut with the Wallabies (2005 vs Springboks) of course. I am the only Wallaby to have debuted without a number on my back. The Tri-nations win against the All Blacks at Suncorp in 2011 is also a highlight.
Speaking of your Wallabies debut, is the beer & pie story true?
Each time the story is told there are more and more pies & beers. We may have been waiting for the pies & beers to come back to the seats. I had no idea why I was being called to the change rooms.
Did the short notice make it easier? Less chance nerves?
I was scared shitless! It was intimidating running on to the field. No one knew that I was going to be on the team and I didn’t have time to tell anyone. Mum was filthy that she didn’t know I was playing and only found out when she watched me run onto the field. I got in trouble over that but what could I do?
What about your greatest regret or disappointment?
It is hard to have regrets. One of the biggest disappointments would be the RWC 2007 quarter final loss to England. I felt I had not performed well, and being pretty young, felt a bit responsible. But you have to use those disappointments as a learning tool.
What about the Semi-final against the All Blacks in RWC 2011?
I suppose I was at a different stage in my career. Yes it was disappointing but it was the All Blacks in New Zealand. In 2007 everything was going really well and it came crashing down in the quarter final. Probably equally disappointed. We only went one better.
What about 2015? Are you hoping to still be around?
I hope to be playing, touch wood.
I won’t mention how old you will be then.
No. You had better not. (For the record he will be 31. Pay back’s a bugger Adam.)
Which player(s), past or present, would you like to play with?
Difficult. There are so many. Probably Matt Giteau, George Smith, and Stephen ‘Bernie’ Larkham.
Who would you say has been your toughest opponent?
Also difficult. I have come across a lot of players equally talented but different in terms of threats or skills. The strongest teams will give you the toughest challenges. I have had to cover quite a few players but the ones that read & control the game well are the ones – Dan Carter and Israel Dagg would be two. Locally, the Reds & Brumbies are always tough. It is hard to nail down one player when there is so much competition.
The atmosphere. When you get a full house with the Wallabies playing, the support & energy you feel from the crowd. You get an extra edge.
Since you are Mr Fix-it of Australian Rugby backs, which position do you prefer or enjoy to play?
I enjoy all of them and don’t prefer any. But I feel most comfortable at 13. Mainly because that is where I have played the most and I feel it suits my game.
What do you think the current Super Rugby season will bring?
The level of competition has become tighter across the whole competition. All conferences. There won’t be a standout winner or wooden spooner. This will make the job harder. Sixteen weeks of backing up is going to test everyone in the organisations. Administration, players, coaching, everyone. The team that is fortunate enough in terms of injuries will be up there.
What do you think about the depth in Australian Rugby?
The fifth provincial team has created some challenges, but it has also given the chance to players to adapt and evolve to the quality of rugby needing to be played. In comparison, the All Blacks have a lot more depth and this is reflected in their performances.
Are you excited about the British and Irish Lions visiting our shores?
Yes! Looking forward to the experience and being part of the atmosphere. The Sea of Red, the noise, the whole show. It will be great to be a part of.
What do you remember of the 2001 tour?
I was still at school, doing my HSC. I watched it on television with the family.
This time you will be there.
I am hoping to be fit and available.
What do you see life after rugby holding for you?
Who knows, but I had better start to figure that out since I probably don’t have much left in me. I’ll cross that bridge when it comes. I have got a few projects in the development stage. I would like to go back and finish my Sports Science degree. There are a lot of opportunities out there as a result of rugby. My focus has always been with rugby so I am concentrating on the game and what I have to do there.
Now for the very important questions…..
What did it feel like to be selected in the PinkRugby.com’s REAL Fantasy Rugby team?
You haven’t heard? Pink Rugby has selected a REAL Fantasy Rugby team. You and Drew made the team along with Dan Carter, Beau Robinson and a few others.
[After going through the team sheet]
Wow. Bit of a mix there. I will have to check it out.
In 2013 Pink Rugby put out a calendar with some of the reds boys to raise money for the McGrath Foundation. Will you be willing to join the calendar boys for 2014?
I would love to. Yes.