Wallabies wing Adam Ashley-Cooper will not play any further part in the Rugby Championship as he is set to return to France this week.
According to a report on the Australian Rugby Union’s official website, the 116-Test Wallaby will fly back to Bordeaux in the coming days to line up in the Top 14 in the next fortnight.
Ashley-Cooper had been given a release from Bordeaux for part of the Rugby Championship, though the winger has said in recent weeks that his availability was an ongoing negotiation with Bordeaux.
At the airport ahead of their trip to Wellington last week, Ashley-Cooper said his availability would be ‘reviewed’ after the weekend
“For the European-based players like myself that’s an ongoing conversation that I’m having with my club president back in France and Cheik here,” he said at the time.
“So we’ll review that after this weekend.
“From the start, the initial discussion was with Cheik that I was coming back for the first two Tests and then it’s an ongoing conversation.
“So, it was pretty open from the start.”
Bordeaux president Laurent Marti had expressed his frustration at the ARU in having to release Ashley-Cooper, who signed with the French club before the introduction of the “Giteau Law” that allowed players with more than 60 Test caps to return to the Wallabies from overseas clubs.
“Yes, I’m annoyed. Adam had told me that he would stop playing for the national side. He had the power to say no to his coach and his federation… he should have told me when we were carrying out our negotiations,” Marti told Sud-Ouest at the time.
Ashley-Cooper had cited the Bledisloe Cup as his main motivation for returning to Australia and with that now out of the Wallabies’ reach, it is unclear whether he will add to his current Test tally.
His and the other European players’ availability for the final Bledisloe was never guaranteed, with the Eden Park Test falling outside of the Regulation nine window for Test release, coming after the Rugby Championship.
Ashley-Cooper is not the first returning player to head back to France – Matt Giteau has already returned to Toulon to recover from an ankle injury, lasting just 11 minutes of this series.
Winger Drew Mitchell is yet to play a part in the Rugby Championship, still working his way back to fitness.
Will Genia has proven to be the bright spot for the European Wallabies, showing solid form in the two Bledisloe Tests, and the only player to make it through both matches unscathed.