Adam Ashley-Cooper excited about Super Rugby finals experience

HIGHLIGHT: Adam Ashley-Cooper at Waratahs training yesterday. Picture: Getty ImagesHE’S one of the great Wallabies of the past decade but Adam Ashley-Cooper will finally erase a jarring omission from his record this weekend.
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The 94-Test warrior hasn’t played in a Super Rugby finals match during his long and distinguished career.

He gets a chance to remove that glaring blemish from his record tomorrow when he lines up for NSW in their semi-final clash against the Brumbies in Sydney.

The 30-year-old utility back played in losing grand finals as a junior but said his last finals match was for a colts team way back in 2002.

He was with the Brumbies when they won the 2005 Super title but didn’t play in that finals series.

“It’s my first finals experience in 10 years of Super Rugby, so to be part of this is really exciting,” Ashley-Cooper said.

“I played a lot of grand finals in my junior days but I didn’t get the choccies in any of those grand finals.

“My dad always said that you needed to lose one to win one so I’ve lost a few, so maybe I’m due.”

Another former Brumby, forward and Test representative Stephen Hoiles, also views the Waratahs’ finals campaign as a potential career highlight.

Hoiles at least won a club premiership in Sydney but said a Super title would be the pinnacle of his career, even above his 16 Test appearances.

“It would be the highlight of my career, to be honest,” Hoiles said.

“Playing for your country is an amazing achievement. So far I’ve won a club comp for Randwick in 2004 and that’s my highlight because that’s something you do with your team, that’s what you do with your mates.”

As former Brumbies, both Ashley-Cooper and Hoiles know how pumped the Canberra-based franchise will be for a domestic grudge match.

Ashley-Cooper rated the Brumbies’ backline highly, especially their defensive qualities, which will be examined by the attack-minded Tahs this weekend.

“Defensively, they are very strong, so they are certainly going to test our attack,” Ashley-Cooper said.

He nominated inside back Christian Lealiifano as one Brumby who enjoyed on-field banter but stressed NSW would try to avoid any sledging battle.

Hoiles noted there hadn’t been as many verbal fireworks between the teams in the lead-up to Saturday’s game as in the past.

“There seems to be a lot less trash talk now,” Hoiles said.

“Sadly this week it’s been left to Brumby Jack [the Brumbies mascot] to take care of that.” AAP

SUPER RUGBY MATCHES

TOMORROW

Crusaders v Sharks: AMI Stadium, Christchurch, 5.35pm

Waratahs v Brumbies:Allianz Stadium, Sydney, 7.40pm