Foley ready to be part of Waratahs' 2018 start

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs want to make Allianz a fortress again in 2018, but flyhalf Bernard Foley is just happy to be a part of round one.

Foley has missed the past two season openers, with a concussion in 2017 and a shoulder injury in 2016, an absence that has had NSW on the back foot.

This year, though, the playmaker is fighting fit for round one, ready to reunite with long-time attacking partner Kurtley Beale.

“I've missed the last two opening rounds, so to be involved iths year it's really exciting,” he said.

<br. _rdeditor_temp="1">“I think you do all that hard work in the lead up, you want to be in the jersey for that first round, you want to be representing the squad and I think it was a shame to miss the last couple but it's not something we're dwelling on.” </br.>

A win to open the season is critical for the Waratahs and that the first match is at Allianz, where they won just two from seven matches last year, makes it even more significant.

In 2014, their championship year, NSW went undefeated at home and in 2015 they won five from seven, before that number dropped to four in 2016 and two in 2017.

“I think that was probably one of the things that hurt us the most last year was playing games out here in front of our own fans and friends and family and not getting the result,” Foley said.

“There's too many times we sat in our own change room there and it being a losing environment.

“When we've had good seasons, we've made this ground a real hostile ground for oppositions and I think that's what we have to go back to.

“We have to try and make this a formidable ground for us and a place we really love enjoying because it's a great stadium, it's one of the best stadiums in the world and it's always good to do in front of our home fans.”

Foley will go head-to-head with Stormers teen Damian Willemse on Saturday night, and the Waratahs playmaker is expecting a strong outing from his foe.

“In his first couple of games of SR, he's been really good,” he said.

“He's not afraid to chance his hand, to run from deep,” he said.

“He's got a really good strong skill set. I think he's got the foundations to be a really good 10 and he'll definitely lead them around well tomorrow night.”

Beale’s return means Foley’s load will be somewhat shared in the attacking stakes, something he welcomes.

“His perception of the game has really changed or matured, especially from his time away and how he sees the game and how he can build the game,” he said.

“As much as he is a raw talent and he looks like he plays off the cuff all the time, he's actually very structured and very composed.

“He's a stickler for the detail, he wants everyone doing their job, which then allows the team to be best prepared.

“Having him there with that composure, having him there with that heightened game management is something that's going to help, not only myself but the rest of the team.

“It allows us to apply pressure through the 80 minutes, rather than just one-off moments.”

The Waratahs host the Stormers on Saturday February 24, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT. Buy tickets here.

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