Ashley-Cooper set for Bordeaux after NZ beatings

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 07:22
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wallaby veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper is set to put his Bledisloe Cup woes behind him and hit the Top 14 season running to go some way to appeasing his disgruntled Bordeaux-Begles club President.

Laurent Marti was left upset when Ashley-Cooper returned to Australia to play in the two opening Rugby Championship Tests against New Zealand, the All Blacks coming out convincing winners, 42-8 and 29-9.

It meant the utility back, capped 114 times by the Wallabies, missed Bordeaux-Begles' opening three games of the Top 14 season, his side having snuck past Racing 92 in their opener before going down to Toulouse and Montpellier in the notoriously competitive league.

Marti's disappointment "was understandable," Ashley-Cooper said.

"He was disappointed because when I originally signed at the end of 2014 the rules were that if I'd signed with a French club I wasn't allowed to go back and play.

"The rules changed just before the World Cup in 2015. I've always loved playing for my country and when Michael Cheika asked me to play after the World Cup I was certainly very interested because I'm a patriot and I love playing for my country so to say no was a very tough decision."

Ashley-Cooper added: "I spoke to Laurent and explained why I wanted to go back and play for my country. I wanted to compete against New Zealand. I wanted to compete for a Bledisloe Cup because I've been playing for Australia for 10 or 11 years and I haven't had much success against them.

"I still had that desire and fire to play against them and play well and win. I explained that to Laurent. He was very reasonable about it, obviously upset and I understand why, but I was going back for the two games and now I'm back, very happy to be back and I hope he is too."

Ashley-Cooper insisted there had been "nothing personal".

"He's the President of this club, he cares about this club and he wants all the players to be available here," the 32-year-old Wallaby said.

"I understood he was upset about the availablity of players, and that's what footy is, what business is. It's nothing personal, it's a business, he wants the best for UBB and so do I."

Bordeaux-Begles entertain Bayonne on Saturday, Ashley-Cooper saying the team could take a lot from the 15-32 defeat by Montpellier last time out.

"I was pretty disappointed for the boys because they put a lot of effort into that game, there were a lot of positives to take out," he said.

"There were some critical moments and some decisions where we let ourselves down. I don't think there's anything to be too worried or stressed about. It's important to remain positive and have that growth mindset heading into the next game because each game you want to get better.

"It's a long season, there's no need to have your head down, it's about moving forward, staying positive and improving on each game."

Ashley-Cooper said he had got over the disappointment of those two heavy defeats by New Zealand, the world champions atop the standings of the Rugby Championship after the two bonus-point wins.

"I was pretty disappointed with the two outcomes," he said. "Obviously I went back to Australia to compete in the Bledisloe and get a better result than that, but obviously that wasn't the case, New Zealand were far too good on both occasions and we weren't good enough.

"That's disappointing, particularly for me. I've played New Zealand a lot of times in my career and haven't had much success, so to go back and train for five weeks with the ambition to contribute to a team perfomance and play for my country and put ourselves one step closer to lifting that cup but that wasn't the case, well that's life, that's football.

"I've put that behind me now, because I'm back here and my priority and focus is now with Bordeaux-Begles."

Agence France-Presse