Waratahs new Super Rugby signing Adam Ashley-Cooper is looking forward to celebrating Australia Day back home in New South Wales for the first time in eight years.
Originally from the NSW Central Coast, Ashley-Cooper represented his home state as a junior before joining the Brumbies for the 2005 Super Rugby season.
The 27-year-old Wallaby today took part in a game of backyard cricket with fellow team mate Daniel Halangahu, NSW netballer Mo'onia Gerrard and former Australian Olympic boxer Ricky Timperi, to help promote the state-wide program of events planned for next week's Australia day celebrations.
"It's great to be back home in NSW," he said, before revealing how he plans to celebrate his first Australia day back home with his friends and family.
"On the day itself I'll be training with my new team mates. No doubt we'll have a bit of a BBQ after training but that weekend I'll be celebrating with my friends and family back on the beautiful NSW Central Coast."
Keen to get stuck into things with his new team mates, Ashley-Cooper arrived at training last Monday, a week earlier than expected, and is already relishing the new challenge.
"I've had such a warm welcome from everyone here that I feel like I've been here for ages already.
"The atmosphere is full of excitement and enthusiasm. It's invigorating for me and I'm really enjoying having a new challenge."
Having capped yet another successful year for the Wallabies in 2011 but the versatile and respected outside back is taking nothing for granted, despite his NSW heritage - his uncle Graeme Bond is a former NSW Waratah and Wallaby.
"I'm the new kid on the block and I've got to prove myself to the team, the organisation and the supporters."
Although the absence of fellow Wallaby Kurtley Beale has created a potential vacancy at full back, Ashley-Cooper insists the number on his back is not important.
"As long as there is spot for me somewhere in the backs then I'm happy."