Adam Ashley-Cooper: O’Driscoll is a ‘freak’
Ahead of Ireland v Australia this weekend, Wallabies centre Adam Ashley-Cooper has hailed Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll, calling him a ‘freak’ in the nicest possible sense of the word.
Ashley-Cooper has long been a fan of Ireland’s most-capped player and record try-scorer and revealed that, as a youngster, he was encouraged to study O’Driscoll because he was the best outside centre in the world.
Injuries have hampered the Irish captain in recent times and many believe that he is not the player he was, but Ashley-Cooper is having none of it and believes that he will pose a significant threat against Robbie Deans’ side when the two teams go head to head in Auckland this weekend.
“Brian is a freak. He created a pretty painful result for us at Croke Park a couple of years ago when he scored under the posts to draw the game,” he said.
“He’s achieved so much. All of us in the Aussie camp respect him so much. On a good day he’s one of the best in the world. We’re hoping he has a quiet night on Saturday.
“Absolutely he represents the same threat that he did five years ago. Players like Brian turn up in arenas like this. It’s a World Cup and he’s here to play.
“Back in 2002 I was told by my coach to study Brian O’Driscoll because he was the best at what he did at 13. He had acceleration and defence – he’s a complete player and has shown that for that last 12 years.
“I’m sure whoever gets the 13 jersey this week will be very excited to face him. If you want to be the best you’ve got to compete against the best and Brian has been on top of his game for so long.”
Ashley-Cooper started on the wing against Italy on Sunday, but could move into outside centre opposite O’Driscoll, if as expected, James O’Connor comes into the side to replace the injured Digby Ioane.
Prior to beating the Italians, the Wallabies claimed their first Tri-Nations in ten years after defeating the All-Blacks in Brisbane. They’re on a hot streak at present, but Ashley-Cooper insists that form alone isn’t going to get them over the line against Declan Kidney’s side.
“We took a lot out of our last two performances, against South Africa in Durban and against the All Blacks in Brisbane,” he said.
“To win such an important tournament has created a lot of confidence and belief in the squad.
“But we’ve put that behind us because these are new challenges. Ireland are going to be tough.
“It seems to me that games are being won around the 60-65 minute mark. We expect a pretty tight encounter right up until then,” he added.