New identity helping Wallabies win back respect

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

A new identity has helped the Wallabies find their way and vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper says it’s helped the team win back the Australian public’s respect.

The veteran back, who has played 109 Tests for the Wallabies, said the attacking style they’ve developed under coach Michael Cheika was the foundation for success.

"We have done a lot of work on our own identity - individually and our Team Wallaby identity,” he said.

"That identity is about playing with no fear, never taking a backward step, having a physical edge, being relentless in defence and all this set of values that we believe embodies the Wallaby jersey and the Australian player."

Ashley-Cooper said the side was starting to realise the bigger picture of the World Cup, a realisation that would hopefully motivate the team.

"It's important to every Australian,” he said.

“The good thing about this group at the moment is that we are just starting to appreciate that it is all bigger than us.

“It's much bigger than us, it's very important to very many people back home, and if that doesn't overwhelm you, it really inspires and motivates you."

With a handful of lean years behind them, the Wallabies this year won their first Rugby Championship since 2011 and Ashley-Cooper said their style of play should help them return to the forefront of the public’s mind.

“There is a lot competition of codes in Australia - I mean, we have many successful codes going on back home - but with rugby, maybe because we haven't been performing to our potential at international level, it has dropped off a little."

"I'd like to think that the way we've been playing the past 12 months has been a bit of a catalyst. We want to inspire and entertain our fans and I'd like to think that's what we are doing now."

“It was (caused by) a number of things, but what's important is that we've picked ourselves up again and got ourselves going and are rebuilding.

“We are in a really good space now."

Ashley-Cooper went tryless in the opening match against Fiji but the outside back said he was pretty happy to watch as the Wallabies created two driving maul tries in the opening half.

"It's not bad is it? It's a good change up,” he said.

"It's great. To me, being a back, I love seeing that stuff: the boys, the forwards, taking control at a set piece.

"It's something we haven't been known for for a while, so to get two tries off the back of some pretty good mauling was great to see, especially as a back."