Wallabies need to hold their nerve in Twickenham cauldron: Ashley-Cooper

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies need to stay calm and carry on attacking when they face England next weekend, utility Adam Ashley-Cooper says.

Adam Ashley-Cooper brought an extra element of experience to the side in his first Test in two years, making some pivotal line breaks and some smart decisions in attack, pressing his claims for a spot in the final 2018 showdown against England.

He was involved in two of the Wallabies’ three tries against Italy – throwing a timely pass in the lead up to Marika Koroibete’s second try and making an important break ahead of Will Genia’s match-sealer in the dying minutes.

Those tries, especially Koroibete’s, came from periods where the Wallabies showed patience in their attack rather than throwing an ambitious, high-risk offload or putting in an ineffective kick.

Ashley-Cooper said they had to find more of that in England and make sure they found reward in the opening stages of the match.

“It's just about being calm and composed,” he said.

“I feel there is perhaps a little anxiety that is hurting our attack.

“The guys are little bit keen and eager.

“It's a matter of remaining calm and starting well.

“For me Test footy is all about first 20 minutes. Getting into the game and finding the momentum.”

The first 20 minutes against Italy left plenty of room for improvement for the Wallabies, with two Italian tries disallowed before Australia broke the deadlock at the half-hour mark.

England won’t give the Wallabies those kind of let-offs at Twickenham, a fact of which Ashley-Cooper and his teammates are acutely aware.

"I thought the Italians were great, they were hungry and desperate and they defended well,” he said.

“Our mindset next week should be improve and  build on the momentum and improving the skill sets.

“Taking the good stuff that we did out of Italy and Wales and improve on that.”

Maintaining composure is one thing on a normal week but the challenge to keeping their heads will be even tougher at England’s Twickenham fortress.

Ashley-Cooper has been there for some of Australia’s most composed moments, namely in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but there are plenty of Wallabies who have only tasted defeat at the London ground in three consecutive away defeats to England since 2016.

One player who will be coming with none of that baggage is Taniela Tupou, who made his debut In Scotland the week after the England Test last year.

The Wallabies front row have some work to do in London. Photo: Getty ImagesA year on, the mammoth prop said he felt more settled in the Test lineup, after one of his best games in Wallabies colours against Italy and he is primed for the challenge facing him this week.

“From what I felt 12 months ago, I am more comfortable now,” he said.

“I know the players more and feel a lot closer to them.

“I have played a lot more games now so I know what it's like to play at this level.”

Australia’s scrum has been heavily penalised in the past two Tests, particularly when it comes to binding, and though it's an area coach Michael Cheika said needed better officiating, Tupou said they were focused on improving.

"We have been trying to fix them,” he said.

“We have been too long in the bind which is something we have been working on for next week's game.

“We need to be better as England will be watching and try to go hard at any weaknesses we may show.”

The Wallabies arrived in London on Monday morning AEDT ahead of Sunday’s Test.

Australia takes on England on Saturday November 24, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports and SBS.