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First win for Ashley-Cooper

Monday, August 04, 2014

SYDNEY - An ecstatic Adam Ashley-Cooper dubbed it "100 per cent the greatest moment in my rugby career" and coach Michael Cheika said there could not have been a more fitting man of the match than the NSW Waratahs ironman.

Three days after staying up til 4am to pen an inspiring poem about his 32 teammates, Ashley-Cooper's vintage two-try display helped lift the Waratahs to an elusive maiden Super Rugby title.

The Tahs' thrilling 33-32 victory over the colossal Crusaders at ANZ Stadium also earned Ashley-Cooper his long-awaited first grand final triumph of any type after more than 20 years of trying.

"I played a lot of grand finals as a junior and never got the chockies on any," the 30-year-old said.

"It kind of all makes sense now. All the years of disappointment was all worthwhile just for this one moment and this is locked away and something that no-one can take away from me or the group."

The only player to play all possible 560 minutes at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Ashley-Cooper didn't miss a single game of the Waratahs' glorious 18-match campaign in 2014 either.

Cheika, though, said it's not just the on-field contributions that make the indestructible centre and vice-captain a hero at the Waratahs.

"There's one word of describing that guy on and off the field and that's class," Cheika said.

"Every week he delivers and I'm not using that as a big sweeping statement.

"He delivers every week consistently, the same quality, sometimes a little bit better than his normal - but his normal's very, very good.

"Off the field, last year he stepped up into a leadership role that he probably hasn't had before and he's flourished in it.

"He's really used the little grey flicks in his hair to all his advantage. He's swanned and charmed all the younger players.

"He's got them looking up to him because he delivers and that's what talks in the end."

Ashley-Cooper took 12 painstaking hours and several rewrites to produce his motivational masterpiece on Wednesday.

He said the idea came from stand-in captain Michael Hooper's decision last month to ask a senior statesman of the team to deliver a weekly speech.

"It was my turn and I just felt like I needed to add something different," Ashley-Cooper said.

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