Adam Ashley-Cooper's unconventional World Cup call

Wallabies veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper was made to sweat by Matt Giteau, but his close mate at last delivered the good news that he'd be off to a fourth Rugby World Cup.

Continuing the tradition from the 2015 World Cup, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika relied on former Test players to give each of his 31-man squad the news they'd been waiting for.

Having been through it before, you could expect Ashley-Cooper to take it all in his stride. But this was a new situation, of sorts, given his location at the time of Giteau's call.

"A good mate of mine called me, Matt Giteau, I actually thought he was calling me for a bit of a catch-up," Ashley-Cooper told ESPN. "I was in birthing class and I thought he was making me sweat a little.

"I had to call him back after the class later that night and it took him about 15 to 20 minutes before he told me, before he actually congratulated me.

"It was pretty funny that way. But it was nice, I'll look back at this fourth World Cup with a bit of history and a nice memory that a good mate of mine called me and congratulated me."

A shock selection in some quarters, Ashley-Cooper returned to the Wallabies during their spring tour in 2018, playing against Italy, and then saw good minutes for the Waratahs during the Super Rugby season.

But he had featured in only one of the Wallabies' recent Tests, an appearance off the bench in the Australia's Bledisloe II loss at Eden Park.

With just 189 minutes of Test rugby since 2016 the odds looked stacked against Ashley-Cooper, but his 118 Tests of experience kept him in contention and will see him line-up next to the youngest player named in the Wallabies World Cup squad: 19-year-old Jordan Petaia.

The third most capped Wallaby of all time, Ashley-Cooper's audacious bid for a fourth World Cup began 18 months ago when he returned to Australia following two years at Bordeaux-Begles in France.

"[It's] extremely satisfying [to make the squad] and I'm extremely proud that I've been able to achieve that. Yeah, I do want to give myself a little pat on the back because it was a goal of mine and it was something that I set out to achieve, but we're not there yet.

"We've still got to get through a two-week camp in New Caledonia, which is not going to be easy, and then we've got to get over there [Japan] and we've got to win it. I'm still very focused and committed to achieving the goal of winning a Rugby World Cup."

While Ashley-Cooper is at one end of the age spectrum, Petaia's selection has the youth angle covered. Still to debut at Test level, the 19-year-old is the rookie in an otherwise experienced Wallabies squad that boasts a combined total of 1406 Test caps - 170 more than the 2015 cohort.

Petaia's potential was not however lost on Cheika, nor his World Cup teammates.

"[I've seen] a lot, and a lot that I like," Ashley-Cooper told ESPN. "I can't wait for him to get some game time up there, because he's a unique talent and has huge amounts of potential. He's not far of being one of the best [outside backs], or one of the world's best.

"I'm really excited for guys like Jordan Petaia, experiencing their first World Cup; Samu Kerevi also. I remember what it was like to be kind of all bright-eyed and young, excited at my first World Cup in 2007 in France. I hope they enjoy and just take it a day at a time and be really present."

With the countdown now on to the Wallabies' World Cup opener, against Fiji on Sept. 21, Ashley-Cooper is hoping his baby sticks to its due date of Nov. 7, just in time to celebrate a potential World Cup victory.

"I'm cutting it thin, I'm hoping that she either runs late or she runs on time, I'll be happy if she can hold on till I come home.

"It would be a pretty special week. It would be a fitting end to the year, absolutely. Maybe an end to the career if I can finish on that, on a World Cup win. That'll do me, no need to keep lacing up then."