Wallabies veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper will return to France this week and take no further part in Australia’s Rugby Championship campaign.
Ashley-Cooper was one of four Europe-based players called up for Wallabies duty under the ‘Giteau Law’ but like the others, his involvement had always been subject to ongoing negotiations with his Top 14 club, Bordeaux.
The 32-year-old indicated last week his availability would be “reviewed” by his club following the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington, since the Rugby Championship doesn’t fall into the Regulation Nine window that compels clubs to release Test players.
Ashley-Cooper started both matches against the All Blacks but his departure could open the door for the likes of Luke Morahan or Reece Hodge to face South Africa in Brisbane next Saturday.
It follows the ankle injury to Matt Giteau and means there are just two players left in the Wallabies mix who don’t play in Super Rugby – halfback Will Genia and winger Drew Mitchell, who is still building up fitness following a recent groin operation.