MLR Champion Adam Ashley-Cooper Swoops Into Coaching Role
The Wallaby great’s ongoing commitment after his one-season stint as a standout player is a huge vote for what the Giltinis are building in Los Angeles.
He will contribute his vast knowledge beside backs coach Orene Ai’i to make sure the Giltinis keep setting the standard for attacking play in Major League Rugby.
While Ashley-Cooper’s role as a senior assistant coach will embrace attack, he will continue as a mentor for the club’s emerging breed of American backs.
Head coach Stephen Hoiles (left below) asked Ashley-Cooper to join his coaching staff and their upbeat bond is well established as former teammates on Australia’s national rugby team.
“This is a really exciting opportunity at the Giltinis to implement some of the ideas and tricks I’ve stored in my rugby notebook over a long career,” Ashley-Cooper said. “Everything has aligned.”
“Last season with the Giltinis really was the most enjoyable 12 months of my rugby career in terms of the team culture we built and the time we had together as players coming from all over the world.
“I know ‘Hoilesy’ and (General Manager) Adam Freier are working really, really hard to sustain that standard. Keeping the really competitive environment of hard work and fun that made the Giltinis click really appeals to me too.”
Ashley-Cooper showed his trademark qualities for the big occasion on August 1 in the 31-17 Championship triumph over Rugby ATL at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Midway through the first half, he seized a Matt Giteau chip kick ahead, ran, dummied and coolly positioned winger John Ryberg for a key try.
Ashley-Cooper, 37, sidestepped the “retirement” word when talking about the next chapter in a stellar career that encompasses 121 Tests, four World Cups and major trophies in Australia, Japan and the USA.
“It’s a transition rather than calling it a retirement because we all know rugby players never really retire. I’d like to keep one or two games up my sleeve for somewhere, sometime,” Ashley-Cooper said with a smile.
“I see my coaching role as helping out on attack, working with Orene, and also helping the further growth of young backs like John Ryberg, Ryan James and Adam Channel.”
Ashley-Cooper will be a valuable intellect to help replace the expertise of departed coach Darren Coleman, who developed a lot of the launch detail around the Gilltinis’ slick set plays in 2021.
Ashley-Cooper said the coaching itch started when playing for Kobe Steelers in Japan in 2017-18.
“In Japan, there is a big focus on the senior players running extras and skills with developing players. The Japanese are so keen to learn rugby and I found that very rewarding,” he said.
“It showed how enjoyable coaching could be and there were some of those same aspects to the Giltinis in season one with the assistance you could offer younger players around you.
“I just really enjoyed seeing how much Johnny Ryberg competed and improved for his outstanding year. Ryan James was selected in the US Eagles squad and a late-season selection like Adam Channel just grew. He’s now in the US Sevens squad.”
Ashley-Cooper recently helped draft picks James O’Neill, Sam Klimkowski and Gerald Lowe (left to right below) run through some skills but his coaching will come to the fore when the whole squad gathers in November.
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