US MLR club, the LA Giltinis have announced the signing of Australia’s four-time Rugby World Cup star and his vast experience.
Only 16 players in rugby history have played more Tests than Ashley-Cooper (121) over his 15-year run (2005-19) which netted 39 tries.
Ashley-Cooper, 36, is highly motivated to make a positive mark as an outside centre or winger after shelving retirement ideas to taste rugby American-style.
“The opportunity to play rugby in the US, travel the country to enjoy everything it has to offer and share in a real movement of rapid growth for the game is very appealing,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“Having played in France and Japan, I’ve really enjoyed embracing different cultures but also the Barbarians-style dynamic within those teams of players from around the world.
“It’s a hard thing to turn down with that same dynamic at the Giltinis.
“Everyone talks about the LA lifestyle and I want to experience the very positive culture of big, loud and fun in their sports.”
His name lengthens the roster of talent from eight countries at the newest professional sporting franchise to call Los Angeles home.
The 216lb (98kg), 6’0” (1.82m) Ashley-Cooper has an enviable record of high-performance on the biggest rugby stages of the world.
His nine Test tries against the All Blacks is exceptional and he has won a Super Rugby championship with the NSW Waratahs (2014) and Japan’s Top League title with Kobe Steelers (2018).
What Ashley-Cooper has learnt about winning formulas within a team environment translates to the Giltinis.
“Performance starts before you even run onto the field with a really positive team culture built around collectively buying in so everyone puts the team first, you are respectful and each bloke is accountable to our standards,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“I’ve known (head coach) Darren Coleman for a long while and he has a really good grasp of bringing people together on and off the field. I’m very confident in his role.”
Ashley-Cooper credited his signing to vision of Adam Gilchrist, the key figure behind Loyals Rugby, the rugby investment company which is the primary owner of the Giltinis.
“I’ve had a long association with Adam back to club rugby at Norths in Sydney in 2006,” Coleman said.
“He’s the consummate professional and will bring amazing experience and competitiveness to the Giltinis.
“His presence will be invaluable for the young American and Canadian outside backs in our squad and Adam will have a fair bit of input to tactics and our game plans.”
The Giltinis make their MLR debut at home against the New England Free Jacks on March 20.