Adam Ashley-Cooper to return to Waratahs?

Date published: October 11 2018

The Waratahs have confirmed they are in talks with Adam Ashley-Cooper about signing the 116-cap Wallabies centre for the 2019 Super Rugby season.

New South Wales Rugby Union boss Andrew Hore expressed the club’s interest in Ashley-Cooper as he also revealed the Waratahs’ home game schedule for next season – which will include games at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) and regional and suburban venues – is close to being announced.

It emerged in March that Ashley-Cooper was contemplating coming home from Japan, where he has been playing for the past two years following a move to France after the 2015 World Cup.

With the Japanese season shutting down due to the 2019 World Cup being hosted in the country, Ashley-Cooper is keen to return to Super Rugby and have a crack at earning a spot in the Wallabies squad for the tournament.

It would be a record-equalling fourth World Cup and Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has said he would consider Ashley-Cooper if he was playing Super Rugby and in form.

“Adam Ashley-Cooper has expressed an interest,” Hore told Rugby Australia’s official website.

“We think in a year such as a World Cup year, where depth is going to be important, that we can see merit in Adam coming back. Everyone speaks highly of his character so leadership is a valuable asset.

“Those discussions are live so we will see where that goes.”

Ashley-Cooper would likely be on a cut-price contract given New South Wales are one of the clubs operating at the lower end of their salary cap.

Hore said on contract negotiations with Bernard Foley and Israel Folau that “we feel from our end that things are close”.

“We are hopeful things are imminent there,” said Hore.

“And we hope that will set us up in a strong manner.”

With Allianz Stadium now officially closed and an exit agreement finalised for the Waratahs, Hore said an announcement of where the ‘Tahs would play in 2019 was also imminent.

Deals are yet to be fully nailed down but Hore said after canvassing a wide range of parties on where to take their games, the feedback was to play at a mix of venues in the west, in regional areas, suburban venues and – given they have a contract – at the SCG too.

The field will be flipped around and run east-west at the SCG, as Sydney FC will do this summer, to give better side-on views from the stands.

Brookvale Oval will also be one of the venues but Hore said there was a balance to be struck of smaller grounds and established venues.

“(Brookvale) is one of the options, but there are others as well, your Leichhardts and those kinds of fields,” he said.

“But it has got to be of a standard too, where people can get a beer and so on.

“We run the Shute Shield final here and it’s a fantastic event and people can put up with some of the issues in and around that venue (North Sydney Oval) for a one-off.

“Playing there regularly, I think people would get a little tired of it.”