France v Australia
Adam Ashley-Cooper feeling Wallabies heat
November 14, 2014
Adam Ashley-Cooper brought up his 100th Test against the All Blacks in Brisbane © Getty Images

Wallabies veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper is feeling the selection heat from a young pack of chasers he considers faster, fitter and probably more talented.

The 30-year-old NSW Waratahs star has built up many things over his 101 Test caps for Australia but a sense of complacency isn't one of them. Ashley-Cooper will join Stephen Larkham on 102 caps when he faces France in Paris on Saturday to sit equal fourth on Australia's all-time Test appearances.

It seems likely the self-confessed late bloomer will add significantly to that tally in the lead-up to next year's World Cup but Ashley-Cooper is taking nothing for granted. With the Fijian-born sensation Tevita Kuridrani keeping him out of the centres and hungry youngsters Henry Speight, Joe Tomane and Rob Horne vying for wing spots, Ashley-Cooper is relying on his experience, drive and competitiveness to prolong his international career.

"I'm certainly feeling a lot of pressure in terms of my position," Ashley-Cooper said. "I've played a lot of my football in the midfield this year (with the Waratahs) but Tevita's doing an absolutely excellent job in that area, so I don't think there an opportunity for me there at the moment.

"I've really got to lock down where I'm playing at the moment (wing) and I love playing there, but there's a lot of depth. I've obviously got a little bit more experience than these guys but these guys I feel could be a little bit more talented, a little bit faster and fitter. If I remain more competitive and hold on to that experience, maybe I can stay just in front."

More to come from Wallabies - Cheika

Ashley-Cooper had a late growth spurt as a youngster and his father always told him he'd be a late bloomer. He says he's "only starting to get this game" at 30 and hopes a second Super Rugby title in his 10th season could precede World Cup glory next year. However the versatile back says he can't afford to look too far ahead as he and the squad adjust to the brutal Wallabies training regime under Michael Cheika.

"For me it's hard just getting through a day at a time," he said. I'm only worrying about the (training) session this afternoon and in a way I'm a little bit nervous about it because I know it's going to be a tough one. Anything can happen and at the moment all I've got is an opportunity to play France this weekend and it could be my last. I think that's the way you've got to see it."

Meanwhile Ashley-Cooper has deflected talk about his future, despite French reports this week suggesting he was in talks with Top 14 club Bordeaux. Ashley-Cooper admitted earlier this year he would pursue options overseas beyond 2015 but said discussions on his future would be left until after the spring tour.

"I see this time we've got together as a really important time and I don't want any distractions for me personally," he said.


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