Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley starred in Australia’s 32-8 win over Wales and no one was more pleased to see his return to form than the man playing inside him, scrumhalf Nick Phipps.
Phipps joked that he felt like a chuffed parent, seeing Foley’s form in recent weeks, after playing out of position at inside centre for much of The Rugby Championship.
Returning to his preferred position at No.10 in the past two Tests, Foley has rediscovered some of his best form in combination with rookie Reece Hodge.
“I’m like a single dad, proud of him. He’s playing very well at the moment and directing the team around,” Phipps said.
“He got pushed to 12 and made the best of it, now he’s come back to 10 and is playing some super footy.
“He’s the guy the team’s really looking to at the moment for a lot of calls and how we’re going to play the game.
“You can see now after a couple of years in the Wallaby jersey, he’s really starting to be a world class player and it’s pleasing for a lot of us having been part of that journey with him.”
“He’s in the perfect position to direct the play. It’s good he’s scoring some great tries and setting them up, but there’s a lot of things you don’t see behind the scenes." - Nick Phipps
While Foley’s willingness to run the ball and finishing abilities attract attention, Phipps said it was the background manoeuvres he made that were most crucial.
“He enjoys having that opportunity to run himself but we’re all quite lucky to have some world-class players outside him; Tevita [Kuridrani], Izzy [Folau] running off him short all the time and then there's the strike players out wide,” he said.
“He’s in the perfect position to direct the play. It’s good he’s scoring some great tries and setting them up, but there’s a lot of things you don’t see behind the scenes.
“He’s always directing traffic, chatting, talking behind play telling us where to go. He’s also a good bloke for me to have out there chatting in my ear.”
Foley said there wasn’t any extra motivation for him to perform after reclaiming the flyhalf jersey, rather his focus was simply on steering the Wallabies around the field well.
“Definitely no personal goals or ambitions, just trying to go out there and lead this team, set the forwards up, allow them to get us on the front foot as we’ve done in the past couple of weeks,” he said.
“I thought our forwards have done excellently and then the backs have worked well off that. It creates opportunities and we’ve just got to be better in creating those opportunities.
“We took some really good ones tonight but we really let some slip, so it’s just finding the balance in that execution and finishing tries off.”
Foley’s partnership with Hodge, who looked far more confident in his second game at inside centre at Test level, is still a work in progress but Foley says there’s plenty of upside for the duo.
“Reece is a tireless worker for us and you just have to watch his efforts on the field, he’s always working hard to get in position and his effort has always been there,” he said.
“It’s just a combination we have to build on. No matter who plays in the 10 and 12 jumpers, it’s crucial that they have a connection and that’s what we’re trying to build."