Wales will have to deal with their Aussie bogeyman if they want to get past Australia at next month’s World Cup.
Adam Ashley-Cooper is back for another crack at taming the Dragonhood after the 118-cap veteran utility back was included in the Wallabies’ 31 man squad for Japan.
The man who boasts a perfect record of 13 wins from 13 games against Wales was in the Australia side that beat Wales to fourth place at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand and also played in the Pool victory at Twickenham four years ago.
He also played at the 2007 tournament and will become only the second Wallaby to play at four tournaments next month when he follows in the footsteps of George Gregan. With 17 appearances at rugby’s global showpiece, he is only five games away from matching the record of 22 held jointly by England’s Jason Leonard and New Zealand’s Richie McCaw.
This will be the fourth tournament in a row at which Wales has met Australia when they clash in round two at the Ajinomoto Stadium, Tokyo, on Sunday, 29 September. That game will be the 50th for the Wallabies at the World Cup.
Ashley-Cooper is one of 11 players (Tevita Kuridrani, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Scott Sio, Sekope Kepu, David Pocock, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Matt Toomua and Kurtley Beale) who beat Wales in the 2015 pool game.
Head coach Michale Cheika has gambled on the fitness of back row star David Pocock, who has not played a Test match for Australia since November, 2018. He has also thrown in the uncapped Jordan Petaia, of Queensland Reds, among his back line options.
Captained by back row dynamo Michael Hooper, and with blockbusting centre Samu Kerevi as his deputy, the squad boasts 1406 caps of Test experience, 200 more than the squad four years ago. Japan will be Hooper’s second World Cup, while 18 players are set for their tournament debuts.
“We’ve become a really tight group and it was a very difficult process in picking only 31 players, but I know each player selected will travel to Japan with the full support of those team mates who won’t board the flight,” said Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
“We have worked really hard at building each week and each game so far this season, and play a brand of Rugby that Australia would be proud of and get every player contributing towards the outcome.
“It’s also important that we select a squad that will handle the tournament play and our draw in particular at the Rugby World Cup, as well as maintain a strong competition for places in the team.
“These next few weeks are about building and adding that little extra edge as a squad and we’ll be working hard to make sure we deliver on the qualities we want people to see when we run out on the field in Japan.”
The Wallabies are heading to New Caledonia for a 10-day training camp before returning to Sydney to play Samoa on Saturday, 7 September. Their opening match of Pool D is against Fiji at Sapporo Dome, Sapporo on 21 September, followed by Wales in Tokyo eight days later.
Wallabies 2019 Rugby World Cup
Allan Alaalatoa (Brumbies – 34 caps)*
Rory Arnold (Brumbies – 22)*
Adam Coleman (Melbourne Rebels -33)*
Jack Dempsey (Waratahs – 11)*
Folau Fainga’a (Brumbies – 11)*
Michael Hooper (Waratahs – 95, captain)
Sekope Kepu (Waratahs – 105)
Tolu Latu (Waratahs – 15)*
Isi Naisarani (Melbourne Rebels – 4)*
David Pocock (Brumbies – 77)
Izack Rodda (Queensland Reds – 21)*
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (Queensland Reds – 15)*
Rob Simmons (Waratahs – 97)
Scott Sio (Brumbies – 58)
James Slipper (Brumbies – 90)
Taniela Tupou (Queensland Reds – 15)*
Jordan Uelese (Melbourne Rebels – 3)*
Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs – 118)
Kurtley Beale (Waratahs – 87)
Bernard Foley (Waratahs – 69)
Will Genia (Melbourne Rebels – 104)
Dane Haylett-Petty (Melbourne Rebels – 32)*
Reece Hodge (Melbourne Rebels – 37)*
Samu Kerevi (Queensland Reds – 29)*
Marika Koroibete (Melbourne Rebels – 23)*
Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies – 60)
Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies – 22)*
James O’Connor (Queensland Reds – 47)
Jordan Petaia (Queensland Reds – 0)*
Matt Toomua (Melbourne Rebels – 46)
Nic White (Rugby Australia – 26)*
*Uncapped at a Rugby World Cup