Utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper is expected to participate in his fourth Rugby World Cup after being named in Australia coach Michael Cheika's 31-man squad yesterday for the tournament in Japan beginning next month.

Ashley-Cooper will be the second Wallaby after George Gregan to play in four showpiece tournaments, with the 35-year-old Ashley-Cooper having played in 17 World Cup matches. That's five games behind all-time leaders Jason Leonard of England and New Zealand's Richie McCaw.

Read more: Doomed Wallabies? The freaky reminder as Cheika names World Cup squad

The squad, captained by Michael Hooper with Samu Kerevi as his deputy, includes 1406 caps of test experience, 200 more than the squad for the 2015 World Cup in which Australia lost in the final to New Zealand.

Adam Ashley-Cooper has made another Wallabies squad. Photo / Greg Bowker
Adam Ashley-Cooper has made another Wallabies squad. Photo / Greg Bowker

Japan will be Hooper's second appearance at the World Cup while 18 players could make their debuts.

Some of Cheika's selections were seen as "a massive gamble", with the Wallabies coach selecting only two recognised halfbacks and naming unproven teenager Jordan Petaia at an event in Sydney.

The 19-year-old fullback is set to become the youngest Australian to feature at the World Cup and has been selected despite playing less than 100 minutes of Super Rugby in 2019 due to injury.

The Wallabies left for a 10-day training camp in New Caledonia yesterday and will return to Sydney to play Samoa on September 7 in a final match before the World Cup.

Australia are coming off a 36-0 loss to New Zealand in Auckland, allowing the All Blacks to retain the Bledisloe Cup for the 17th consecutive year.

"These next few weeks are about building and adding that little extra edge as a squad and we'll be working hard to make sure we deliver on the qualities we want people to see when we run out on the field in Japan," Cheika said. He also promised to play an "unpredictable" brand of rugby in Japan."

Adam Ashley-Cooper during the Wallabies' training session. Photo / Getty
Adam Ashley-Cooper during the Wallabies' training session. Photo / Getty

"If we don't know what we're doing then the opposition won't either," he said, smiling.

Three hookers - Tolu Latu, Folau Fainga'a and Jordan Uelese - have been included but there was no room on the plane for Brumbies No 9 Joe Powell or giant lock Will Skelton.


"We've become a really tight group and it was a very difficult process in picking only 31 players, but I know each player selected will travel to Japan with the full support of those teammates who won't board the flight," Cheika said.

The Wallabies will play their opening match of Pool D against Fiji at Sapporo on September 21, followed by Wales at Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo on September 29.

The Wallabies will then take on Uruguay on October 5 and Georgia on October 11. The top two teams in the pool advance to the quarter-finals.

Australia World Cup squad


Kurtley Beale, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jordan Petaia, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Matt Toomua, Christian Leali'ifano, Bernard Foley, Nic White, Will Genia.

Forwards: Isi Naisarani, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper (captain), David Pocock, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Rob Simmons, Allan Alaalatoa, Taniela Tupou, Sekope Kepu, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Tolu Latu, Folau Fainga'a, Jordan Uelese.

- AP