AAP: Classy winger Adam Ashley-Cooper is desperate to bury the ghosts of France 2007 when the Wallabies launch their Rugby World Cup campaign against Italy on Sunday.
So often a hero for the Wallabies, the versatile Ashley-Cooper confesses to having the worst game of his 55-Test career in Australia’s shock quarter-final loss to England four years ago.
His poor handling on that ill-fated day in Marseilles made a mockery of the selectors’ decision to drop leading tournament tryscorer Drew Mitchell and left Ashley-Cooper shattered.
“That’s right. Looking back, it was a very disappointing finish to such a significant campaign,” he told AAP on Wednesday.
“It was four years ago, it was a long time ago, but no player ever wants to lose a Test match, especially a Test in a World Cup that makes you exit the finals.
“I’ve always wanted to go back and do it again, but you never can. Now this is an opportunity to make a few wrongs right.”
Ashley-Cooper is one of eight survivors from Australia’s ill-fated 2007 Cup campaign backing up in New Zealand.
Along with flanker Rocky Elsom, lock Dan Vickerman and hooker Stephen Moore, the 27-year-old is among only four players with the chance to atone this weekend for Australia’s meek exit from the last World Cup.
“It hasn’t been spoken about because it was such a long time ago. But individually it’s the back of everyone’s mind - how much it hurts to lose a quarter-final,” he said.
“So it’s certainly a great motivational tool to enter a World Cup campaign.” While the Wallabies will live to fight another day even if they lose to Italy, Ashley-Cooper knows he personally may not get a second chance if he flops.
“With James O’Connor available for selection, to get the nod on the wing again was a great surprise and I certainly can’t take it for granted,” he said.
“Like James, there’s many other backs breathing down my neck and just competing for a starting spot.
“With these guys competing, it’s great for the team. It’s great for me and betters my game and hopefully I can hold onto this starting spot.