Wallabies vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper says their Eden Park disaster is a timely serving of “humble pie”, but has vowed to use his own personal heartache as World Cup motivation.
Saturday’s blowout loss to New Zealand in Auckland was, in all likelihood, Ashley-Cooper’s last chance to capture the Bledisloe Cup, with the 31-year-old bound for French club Bordeaux next year and not a likely candidate for a call-up from abroad in future under the 60-cap rule given Australia’s riches out wide.
Ashley-Cooper said the Wallabies had little choice but to take the hit and learn from it – and they must, given they have just one final warm-up game, against the United States next month in Chicago, before their World Cup opener.
“We’ve just got to cop that one on the chin,” he said.
“We have to eat a little bit of humble pie. I’m sure the boys are hurt but like any loss, you respond from that and you better yourself.
“For us, there’s still a lot of belief amongst the team. We’re doing some great things and we’ve got plenty more work to do.”
Ashley-Cooper said it was tough to swallow the fact he may never hold the Bledisloe Cup, which has eluded Australian hands since 2002.
“You win some, you lose some. That’s what a career’s about,” he said.
“My focus now moves towards the World Cup. I’ll put that one behind me but use it as fuel and hopefully do some special things over in England.”
Five-eighth Quade Cooper felt equally gutwrenched as he watched the All Blacks tear apart a 14-man Wallabies team from the sidelines, knowing his yellow card offence on Aaron Smith had cost his side a shot at victory.
But despite failing to get it done in his intense Eden Park examination, he still firmly believes he is the man who can deliver the goods for Australia when the world’s gaze turns their way in England and Wales.
“Of course. I’ve got confidence in myself and the team,” Cooper said.
“We’re working very hard to have something special here, on and off the field.
“This team is bonding together very tightly and for myself personally I’m continuing to work as hard as I can to make sure I can perform on the big stage.
“I felt while I was out there I was able to do everything that was required of me. I felt I was getting better and better.”