Qantas Wallabies winger Adam Ashley-Cooper will become just the sixth player in Australian Rugby history to reach the prestigious 100-game Test milestone, coming against the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Ashley Cooper will join an illustrious group that boasts only five legends of the game – George Gregan (139 caps), Nathan Sharpe (116), George Smith (111), Stephen Larkham (102) and David Campese (101).
It’s a special occasion for the talented NSW Waratahs outside back and will come on the same night as Queensland Reds playmaker Quade Cooper makes his return via the bench.
It’s the first Test opportunity for Cooper in 2014, and will come in front of his hometown supporters in Brisbane.
Two changes have also been made to the starting line-up with Christian Leali’ifano replacing the injured Matt Toomua at inside centre and Rob Simmons returning at lock.
It will also be Leali’ifano’s first opportunity in the green and gold jersey this year, while Simmons has recovered from a head knock he suffered against South Africa in Cape Town just over a fortnight ago.
Qantas Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie congratulated Ashley Cooper on his milestone 100th game.
“Adam has had a remarkable career and he deserves the accolades which come with joining what is an extremely elite group of players to have played 100 games for Australia,” McKenzie said.
“It’s a massive honour and a true testament of his ability to play at a consistently high level over such a long period of time.
“Australian Rugby congratulates Adam on what is truly a special achievement.”
McKenzie also backed Leali’ifano and Cooper to make a positive return.
“It’s always hard when you have to watch from the sideline, so I’m sure they will be determined to make the most of their opportunities,” he said.
“They’re two experienced players who have performed at a high level for Australia before, and you can’t discount the value of experience in these big games.
“Quade has had a lot of great memories at Suncorp Stadium, and we’ll be looking for him to provide the same impact should he get called on late in the game.”
McKenzie said the team was also determined to continue its strong domestic form this year, which has resulted in five wins and one draw on Australian soil.
“The group has spoken about the importance of this week’s game and ensuring the focus remains on our preparation and putting the team in the best possible position to win the game on Saturday night.
“It’s always important to perform in front of your home fans, and this week offers the team a chance to end the 2014 home Test season unbeaten, and square the series against New Zealand.”
Tickets for the match against the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane are available via Ticketek.
The Qantas Wallabies side to play New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday 18 October is:
1. James Slipper (vc - Queensland Reds)
2. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds)
3. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
4. Sam Carter (ACT Brumbies)
5. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
6. Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies)
7. Michael Hooper (c - NSW Waratahs)
8. Scott Higginbotham (Melbourne Rebels)
9. Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs)
10. Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs)
11. Joe Tomane (ACT Brumbies)
12. Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (vc - NSW Waratahs)*
15. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)
16. Josh Mann-Rea (ACT Brumbies)
17. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
18. Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies)
19. James Horwill (Queensland Reds)
20. Matt Hodgson (Western Force)
21. Nic White (ACT Brumbies)
22. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)
23. Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)
*100th Test for Australia