Ashley-Cooper joins Wallaby squad ahead of Europe tests

SYDNEY (AP) — Japan-based Adam Ashley-Cooper has been added to Australia's squad for tests against Wales, Italy and England next month, two years after his last international appearance.

The 34-year-old outside back has been released by his Japanese club, the Kobe Steelers, to join the Wallaby squad as it trains in Japan ahead of its departure for Britain.

Injuries to Reece Hodge and Tevita Kuridrani make it more likely the versatile Ashely-Cooper will make the cut for the final tour squad and add to his 116 test appareances.

The Australians are spending time in Japan following the loss to New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup test in Yokohama last weekend.

The squad will be reduced on Saturday, but Ashley-Cooper is expected to be retained because he can cover wing, centers and fullback. He needs only one more test to become Australia's third most-capped player.

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Ashley-Cooper qualifies to play for Australia while based overseas under the so-called Giteau law, which allows the selection of Australian players with 60 tests or more even if they're playing abroad.

He has been negotiating to rejoin the New South Wales Waratahs in Super Rugby next season in the hope of playing at his fourth World Cup.

"His experience ins important and also just his versatility, his ability to cover a few positions," coach Michael Cheika said.

The squad also includes 18-year-old uncapped center Jordan Petaia, who could become the third-youngest player to make his debut for the Wallabies if he takes the field on tour.

"Having him here with us on these next few weeks will give him an idea of what's required at the level and give him a chance to make a play for the World Cup squad," Cheika said.

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Squad: Forwards: Jermaine Ainsley, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Jack Dempsey, Folau Fainga'a, Ned Hanigan, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Pocock, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Pete Samu, Scott Sio, Taniela Tupou.

Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Jake Gordon, Dane Haylett-Petty, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Jack Maddocks, Sefa Naivalu, Jordan Petaia, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua.

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