The heart-breaking nature of Australia’s Rugby World Cup final defeat has convinced veteran winger Adam Ashley-Cooper to shelve any retirement plans.
The 33-year-old Ashley-Cooper will join French side Bordeaux, along with starting prop Sekope Kepu who admits he feels he’s played his last match for the Wallabies.
It had been expected Ashley-Cooper would use the World Cup as his international swansong, leaving as the Wallabies’ third-most capped player with 115 Tests.
But he revealed a change of heart following the gut-wrenching 34-17 loss to the champion All Blacks on Saturday (Sunday morning AEDT), indicating he’ll be available for selection next year.
“I’m certainly not making a call now,” he said.
“I think after a result like that tonight, it’s certainly not how I want to go out.
“I’ll be around.”
The same cannot be said for fellow starters Kepu and halfback Will Genia, both of whom believe their time in the gold jersey has come to an end.
Like Ashley-Cooper, both have played more than 60 Tests – lifting them above the cut-off for Australia’s experienced overseas players, which allowed France-based Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell to rejoin the team this year.
However, both Kepu and Genia, downcast following the defeat, felt their Wallabies careers were over.
“Your mindset changes when you head overseas (but) I approached it as my last Test match,” said Genia, who is joining Stade Francais and will fly to Paris on Monday to link up with his new team.
The 29-year-old Kepu, a veteran of 63 Tests, has been pivotal in the resurgence of the Australian scrum this year and said he was making the move overseas to support his family.
Should he stay eligible for the Wallabies while playing in France, he’d likely be sacrificing large chunks of his hefty wage – as Giteau and Mitchell did at the World Cup, reportedly sacrificing $250,000 and $150,000 to take part.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said when asked about his international future.
“At this stage, for me, it’s a bit of a weird situation but we’ll see how we go.”