Ashley-Cooper, Petaia, Valetini to join Wallabies in Japan

by Sam Phillips

Adam Ashley-Cooper is back.

The 116-Test utility will join the Wallabies squad in Odawara on Monday along with boom Reds rookie Jordan Petaia and big, ball-carrying Brumbies backrower Rob Valetini.

Ashley-Cooper last played for his country against the All Blacks in 2016 but will be eligible for selection against Wales should coach Michael Cheika call his name.

If he does earn another cap it will make him Australia's third-highest capped Wallaby, bringing the kind of experience Cheika desires.

"His experience is important and also just his versatility, his ability to cover a few positions," Cheika said.

"With him and then a guy like Jordan, it’s probably a good balance.

Adam Ashley-Cooper could make a return for the Wallabies as soon as next Saturday. Photo: Getty Images"We need a couple of extra backs here on the trip.

"(Ashley-Cooper) will train with us, we’ll see where he’s at.

"He’s come on the tour with us to be available for selection, he’s not coming for a holiday."

Petaia isn't coming for a holiday either.

The 18-year-old has just 13 Super Rugby caps to his name but embodies the term meteoric rise.

After making his debut off the bench for Queensland against the Brumbies in Round 8 he immediately showed glimpses of a superstar.

He went on to play 12 more games to finish the year - mostly on the wing - but filled the sizeable shoes left by Samu Kerevi at outside centre for the final two games of the season.

The teenager has gone on to make an impact in the NRC as well, finishing the season as the competition's highest try-score on the way to a grand final appearance with Queensland Country.

Jordan Petaia has been called into Wallabies camp. Photo: Getty ImagesHis footwork at the line, ability to shed tackles and split second decision making is well beyond his years and he is every chance of making his Wallabies debut.

“He’s just got a lot of good touches," Cheika said.

"He’s a good lad, he wants to succeed, he wants to do the work, he’s eager.

"Having him here with us on these next few weeks will give him an idea of what’s required at the level and give him a chance to make a play for the World Cup squad."

Petaia is most likely to line up on tour against Italy, the second of three Tests in the Spring Tour.

Cheika is expected to hand his big guns a break in that Test and, as a result, see what some of his fringe players have to offer.

The other notable addition is Valetini.

The 20-year-old has just three Super Rugby caps to his name but has shown through Australian U20s and NRC football that he has what it takes to thrive on the world stage.

He has been added as a development player and will not be considered for selection on tour, following in the footsteps of now fully-fledged Test players Jack Maddocks, Jack Dempsey and Taniela Tupou.

Playmaker Matt Toomua will also rejoin the squad after completing Leicester duties but Tatafu Polota-Nau will stay in England to give his body a break for the remainder of the year.

Skills coach Mick Byrne has also linked back up with the team after being absent in the lead up to the Yokohama Bledisloe for personal reasons.

The Wallabies face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday November 10, kicking off at 5:20pm local, Sunday 4:20am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sports and SBS.


Wallabies Spring Tour squad

IN: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Jordan Petaia, Matt Toomua Rob Valetini (development player)



Jermaine Ainsley (1 Test, Melbourne Rebels, 23)

Allan Alaalatoa (30 Tests, Brumbies, 24)

Rory Arnold (19 Tests , Brumbies, 28)

Adam Coleman (28 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 26)

Jack Dempsey (7 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 24)

Folau Fainga’a (6 Tests, Brumbies, 23)

Ned Hanigan (18 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 23)

Jed Holloway (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 25)

Michael Hooper (c) (88 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 26)

Sekope Kepu (100 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 32)

Tolu Latu (10 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 25)

Brandon Paenga-Amosa (4 Tests, Queensland Reds, 22)

David Pocock (75 Tests, Brumbies, 30)

Izack Rodda (14 Tests, Queensland Reds, 22)

Rob Simmons (91 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)

Pete Samu (7 Tests, Brumbies, 26)

Scott Sio (52 Tests, Brumbies, 27)

Taniela Tupou (9 Tests, Queensland Reds, 22)


Adam Ashley-Cooper (116, Kobe Steelers, 34)

Tom Banks (3 Tests, Brumbies, 24)

Kurtley Beale (81 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)

Israel Folau (70 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)

Bernard Foley (65 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)

Will Genia (97 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 30)

Jake Gordon (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 25)

Dane Haylett-Petty (28 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 29)

Samu Kerevi (22 Tests, Queensland Reds, 25)

Marika Koroibete (18 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 26)

Jack Maddocks (5 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 21)

Sefa Naivalu (8 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 26)

Jordan Petaia (uncapped, Queensland Reds, 18)

Nick Phipps (70 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 29)

Matt Toomua (39, Leicester Tigers/Melbourne Rebels, 28)

Development Player

Rob Valetini (uncapped, Brumbies, 20)


Wallabies Spring Tour

All times AEDT

Sunday November 11 

Australia vs Wales, Cardiff, 5:20am

Sunday November 18 

Australia vs Italy, 1am 

Sunday November 25 

Australia vs England, 2am