Super Rugby round 13 - Waratahs v Stormers
Ashley-Cooper is rugby's Mr Indestructible
May 10, 2013
New South Wales back Adam Ashley-Cooper is proving to be a resilient force in rugby © Getty Images
New South Wales Waratahs and Wallabies ironman Adam Ashley-Cooper is staking his claim as world rugby's most durable player.
Ashley-Cooper already has the distinction of being the only player at the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup to have played all 560 minutes - or more than nine hours without a single second's rest - and now he's showing similarly remarkable staying power at the Waratahs.
The indestructible backline ace is the only player to have started in 26 straight Super Rugby games for NSW since joining the Waratahs from the Brumbies at the start of last season.
A stalwart of 77 Tests and 104 Super matches, the only game Ashley-Cooper can recall missing in the past five seasons was Australia's 25-19 win over Argentina in Rosario last year.
"Because I got knocked out in South Africa and wasn't allowed to travel to Argentina," he told AAP on Friday. Before that, it was 2008."
As team-mates - and housemate Drew Mitchell - struggle from injury to injury in the grind of professional rugby, even Ashley-Cooper's rivals are marvelling at the 29-year-old's class and resilience.
"Adam Ashley-Cooper's playing some fantastic rugby. What exactly he's putting in his half-time drink, I'm definitely going to ask him this weekend," Stormers superstar Bryan Habana said ahead of his side's clash with the Waratahs at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night. "He's a fantastic longevity player who can keep going. That probably comes down to not only his physical state but also his mental ability. He can carry on fighting on through some injuries and niggles and that's showing in terms of his quality of play.
"He's a fantastic player who contributes a heck of a lot not only on attack, but also on defence. He's pretty hard on the ball, he makes good decisions and the Waratahs and the Australian team rely quite heavily on him. We're definitely going to have to watch him closely this weekend and, when he's picked for the Australian side later this year, we as a Springboks side, if I'm there, are definitely going to have to watch him as well."
Renowned for his versatility, having played fullback, wing and both centre positions for state and country, Ashley-Cooper said the key to his durability was knowing and understanding his body.
"Everyone's got their own programs but if there was any advice I'd give, it would be to focus on recovery and preparation because that's what the game is about these days," he said. "Half the battle is getting back on the field rather than just getting through the 80 minutes. So, touch wood, like a lot of times I've touched wood, I get to keep doing that."