2007 World Cup still haunts Ashley-Cooper

Adam Ashley-Cooper was devastated by the Wallabies loss in 2007

An Australia-New Zealand World Cup final is special, but Wallaby Adam Ashley-Cooper is more motivated to win on Saturday because of a past defeat by England.

The 31-year-old wing — whose three tries in the 29-15 win over Argentina propelled Australia into their fourth final — said the 12-10 loss to England in the 2007 quarter-final had deeply marked him.

“My ambition to win the trophy started when I first tasted the World Cup in 2007,” said Ashley-Cooper, who holds the Australian record of nine tries against the All Blacks.

“I’d only played seven or eight tests in the lead up to that and was relatively new on the scene.

“I remember turning up in France and experiencing the atmosphere of a World Cup which was so motivating and inspirational.

“I was playing with heroes of mine, the likes of George Gregan, Stephen Larkham and Matt Giteau,” added Ashley-Cooper.

Ashley-Cooper, who has pledged to win the Webb-Ellis trophy for childhood friend Guy Grinham who died of cancer just after flying from Australia to see the Wallabies play, said the team had failed to perform despite the experience of the likes of halfback partners Gregan and Larkham.

“We played really well throughout the pool stages, I am not exactly sure how we approached the quarter-final but we didn’t turn up,” said Ashley-Cooper, who along with Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, captain Stephen Moore played in 2007 and will take part in Saturday’s final.

“England were the much better team on the day and so it went from the best experience of my life to being severely depressed and disappointed and suffering heartache.

“I didn’t want to think about rugby for a long time after that and it took me a while to recover.

“I have always wanted to taste the experience of a World Cup final and now on Saturday I get the opportunity.”

Ashley-Cooper, who starts life with French Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles after the World Cup, agreed that the first ever Wallabies-All Blacks final would be unique.

“I would like to think we approach every Test the same and every other nation with the same respect.

“It is obviously traditional rivalry and there is that extra bit of heat in the contest.

“One because they have dominated the sport for so long and over so many years and been the number one,” said Ashley-Cooper.

“I am not too too sure exactly what to expect as I have never experienced a World Cup final but I have experienced a Super Rugby final and I know the pain that was required to get through that and perform well.”

Ashley-Cooper scored two tries when the NSW Waratahs beat the Crusaders to secure their first Super Rugby title in 2014.

“I am sure the World Cup final will be beyond that, there is no bigger game and I am looking forward to experiencing that.”

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