Ashley-Cooper joins the race for centre places


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Wallaby utility player Adam Ashley-Cooper is expected to return for the Brumbies backs soon but he may have to wait a while before he can get his centre position back with the Brumbies.

He is yet to play 80 minutes of Rugby since last year’s World Cup in France after he picked up an ankle injury against the Canterbury Crusaders in round one of Super 14.

With Brumbies and Australian captain Stirling Mortlock coming back into calculations for one of the centre roles, the task of getting his name on the team sheet seems pretty difficult.

While Ashley-Cooper has been out Tyrone Smith has stood up to the task which has made regaining a spot at centre an unlikely option for Ashley-Cooper.

“They have definitely set the standard,”Ashley-Cooper said of rugby league convert Smith and his playing partner, Sanualio Afeaki in the Canberra Times.

“Nothing was expected of them, but they’ve come out and played really good football. I’d say Stirling will take over the 13 position and Tyrone will take the 12.

“Long-term yeah [I want to be in the centres], but at the moment I’m just happy playing anywhere in the backline.”

Ashley-Cooper’s match fitness is the only concern for the Brumbies staff, who are expected to name somewhere in the 22 for this week’s match against the Chiefs.

Stirling Mortlock is also expected to return for his 100th Brumbies cap after post-World Cup shoulder surgery.

Fullback Mark Gerrard is in a race to prove his fitness after he went off two weeks ago.

Gerrard’s injury could open up a spot for Ashley-Cooper who could come in at full back.

“I’ll be struggling a little bit off the pace, that’s to be expected,” Ashley-Cooper said.

“It’s going to be tough. There’s no real position where you can hide. All the work you do on the training park doesn’t relate to a game situation.”

Gerrard who replaced Julian Huxley in the No.15 jersey after a tumour was found on the Wallaby fullback’s brain is not giving up the fight to be named in the team. Gerrard went through a long sprint session yesterday to test his injured leg and will give it a final hit out today.

Gerrard said, “The boys today were pretty keen and energetic, so I think they were pretty keen to get back into it.

“We timed the break pretty well and I think that the week off has done me the world of good.’   

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