Wallabies vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper has revealed next year will be his last in Australian rugby.
Ashley-Cooper declared his hand on Sunday as he counts down the days until joining all-time greats George Gregan (139), Nathan Sharpe (116), George Smith (111), Stephen Larkham (102) and David Campese (101) as only the sixth Wallaby to play 100 Tests.
The classy backline utility will notch the magical milestone in Saturday’s third and final Bledisloe Cup match of the year against the All Blacks in Brisbane.
Turning 31 next year, Ashley-Cooper said he would love to join great mate and newly-crowned French top 14 player of the year Matt Giteau at Toulon after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“I’m certainly scoping out the areas of Toulon but there are a few other clubs that are interested,” Ashley-Cooper told AAP.
“I’m sure that will all come to a head over the next four of five weeks because I think that’s when those things usually start to wrap up.
“But, yeah, I certainly see myself and my girlfriend heading towards Europe after the World Cup.
“I’m very happy career-wise with what I’ve been able to achieve.”
Ashley-Cooper admitted he could never have imagined he would chalk up 100 Tests for his country.
“From where I’ve come from, I’m just a Central Coast battler and trying to survive,” he said.
“It’s hard to believe where I’m at now. I didn’t really have an idea that I was going to be a professional rugby player until I left school.
“So it was until I started playing first grade that I thought I’d ever even give it a decent crack.
“Then before I knew it, I was picked up by the Brumbies. It all really happened very quickly.
“I remember when it all started that there was no way I thought I’d ever play Super Rugby, let alone for the Wallabies and, here I am, on 99 Tests.
“It’s a little surreal. I’m sure it’s going to take a while for it to all sink in.”
Ashley-Cooper said as a teenager he wanted to play tennis, but his mother talked him out of it and put him on the path to rugby.
He eventually decided trying to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, former Brumbies, NSW Waratahs and five-Test Wallaby Graeme Bond, was the way to go.
“At that time, Graeme was playing rugby for the Brumbies and he was a massive family hero and he was a huge influence on my decision to play rugby in the first place,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“He was a great mentor and still is.”