Former Wallabies star Adam Ashley-Cooper wants to repay his club Northern Suburbs in Sydney with a last hurrah in the Shute Shield before officially retiring.
Ashley-Cooper revealed from Los Angeles that is the reason behind using the word “transition” rather than “retirement” for calling time as a player in the United States.
The four-time World Cup performer has swooped on the role as senior assistant coach beside new head coach Stephen Hoiles at the LA Giltinis in Major League Rugby.
It’s a huge vote for what the Giltinis are building in LA after Ashley-Cooper's standout role in the club’s Championship-winning climax to their debut season in August.
“This is a really exciting opportunity at the Giltinis to implement some of the ideas and tricks I’ve stored in my rugby notebook over a long career,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“Last season with the Giltinis really was the most enjoyable 12 months of my rugby career in terms of the team culture we built and the time we had together as players coming from all over the world.
“I know ‘Hoilesy’ and (General Manager) Adam Freier are working really, really hard to sustain that standard. Keeping the really competitive environment of hard work and fun that made the Giltinis click really appeals to me too.”
At 37, Ashley-Cooper still sidestepped the “R” word when discussing the next chapter in a stellar career that encompasses 121 Tests, four World Cups and major trophies in Australia, Japan and the USA.
“It’s a transition rather than calling it a retirement because we all know rugby players never really retire. I’d like to keep one or two games up my sleeve for somewhere, sometime,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“I’d like to finish at Norths. It‘d be a nice little fairytale to go back where it all started as a young fella nearly 20 years ago.
“I’m sitting on 48 caps at Norths so maybe I play two games and raise the bat.”
Ashley-Cooper's mindset to give back to grassroots rugby after his days as a professional continues an upbeat trend amongst Wallabies.
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Last year, former Wallabies skipper Ben Mowen made a comeback with his Brisbane club Easts at 35 and led them to their first premiership in seven years.
At the same time in Canberra, Wallabies great Matt Giteau was running around for the Gungahlin Eagles at 37 and guiding them into the grand final of the John I Dent Cup.
He didn’t know at the time that he still had the itch for more. He was the star signing for the Giltinis and his silky skills were a major factor in the Championship triumph at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 1.
Just a few weeks ago, former Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore savoured his first club premiership with University of Queensland at 38 after making a mid-season comeback to help the club through an injury crisis at hooker.
If this is to become a full-blown trend, it will be a huge show of reconnection between the top-tier and grassroots.