Wallabies utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper revealed that the prospect of a fourth Rugby World Cup campaign has been driving him since the moment the 2015 journey was done but even he can’t quite believe he is on this year’s November Test squad.
Ashley-Cooper opened about his desire to vie for a Rugby World Cup win, in what would be his fourth campaign in 2019.
An injury to Reece Hodge changed all that for the Japan-based utility, whose 116 Tests mean he is eligible for Australia no matter where he plays his domestic rugby.
Ashley-Cooper joined the Wallabies in Japan and speaking to media for the first time since his return, he said the 2019 Rugby World Cup had never been far from his mind.
“I've had three cracks so there was still a bit of fire in the stomach post-2015,” he said in Cardiff on Monday.
“I moved overseas to France and I came back to Japan but still with that goal and ambition to win a Rugby World Cup because it was still there.
“I wasn't expecting to come on tour - there's an opportunity and there could be the possibility of Super Rugby next year to get to that World Cup but apart from that I wasn't expecting to come on tour.”
“When Cheik (Michael Cheika) rang a couple of weeks ago, I was in Japan playing Top League,’ he said.
“He discussed the potential of coming back into the squad and coming on tour and I told him I'd jump at the opportunity.
“Coming back in was really exciting for me and it's good to be back in the environment. It's been a couple of years but I'm pretty stoked to be here.”
The 34-year-old admitted he wasn’t sure whether he’d win a Test return in the three-week tour, with next week’s Test against Italy arguably his best chance.
“My focus is to prepare to play,” he said.
“I think through my preparation, I can share things with the younger guys, I have only been here a week I am playing catch-up.
“But I am finding my feet daily and apart from that I am prepping to play, I am not sure if I will get the opportunity to play but if I have the mindset and I am competing than I am sure I am creating healthy competition around the squad.”