Ashley-Cooper calls for fan support at World Cup
Updated: October 18, 2011, 02:02
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand(AP) Utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper is urging Australians to back the Wallabies in the third-place playoff against Wales at the Rugby World Cup on Friday, "because we care.''
Ashley-Cooper said the Wallabies players had taken their semifinal loss to New Zealand personally on Sunday because they felt they had let their country down. Now he's asking his country to throw its support behind the Wallabies in the battle for third place, no matter how great the disappointment that Australia is out of Cup contention.
"They need to know that the collective group here representing the country care a lot,'' he said. "Obviously we suffered a pretty significant loss on the weekend and everyone was very upset by it and everyone took it personally. We've got an opportunity to turn things around and we really want to win this game.''
Ashley-Cooper said Sunday's 20-6 semifinal loss was a bitter blow to all of the Wallabies' players. It represented the end of their ambitions to become the first nation to win three World Cups. But the players had to quickly regroup and concentrate on Friday's match against a young but rapidly developing Welsh side.
"I took (the semifinal loss) personally, absolutely,'' he said. "I think all of us did. We were extremely upset.
"And I don't think we were upset for ourselves. We were upset for the country. We knew we had a lot of support leading into the game and everyone was behind us. To let ourselves down is one thing but to let the supporters down, the fans and the country down is another.''
Ashley-Cooper said the Wallabies had to try to put Sunday's disappointment behind them to concentrate on Wales.
"It's another opportunity to put on the Wallabies jersey and nobody is going to take that for granted,'' he said. "There's a bronze medal on offer and everyone is pretty excited.
"It's the industry we're in - you win some, you lose some. We've got to put that behind us and even though it was a significant loss, (and) we're not competing for the World Cup, it's still another test match.''
Australia has struggled at the World Cup to play its natural expansive game but Ashley-Cooper hoped that with the pressure on both the Wallabies and Wales released a little on Friday, they might produce an open game.
"I think both teams will have a crack,'' he said. "Both teams really don't have too much to lose so there's not too much expectation or pressure put on us. That'll make for a really exciting game and an open game.
"Given our circumstances it is difficult (to get up for the match). But that's the challenge that we're facing. It was a disappointing result at the weekend and it wasn't one we were searching for but I think it's a good opportunity in front of us now to claim bronze and really turn things around.''
Ashley-Cooper said Wales would be strongly motivated to finish the World Cup on a high note after a disappointing, and contentious, semifinal loss to France.
"Wales are in the same position as us,'' he said. "They've got a great team and they'll want to finish the year with a win.
"I've been very impressed with Wales throughout this tournament. They've played some really good football and got some great backs so it's going to be an extremely tough match for us.''