New NSW flyhalf Bryce Hegarty is the latest in a line of Waratahs recruits looking for a fresh start in Sydney.
Hegarty joined the franchise from Japan this week, starting his second Super Rugby stint after two seasons with the Rebels and is set to play understudy to Foley in 2016.
The former Rebel faced his future teammate just a fortnight ago, playing for the Toyota Industries Shuttles against Foley’s Black Rams and taking the bragging rights.
In Melbourne, the 23-year-old said a pre-season shoulder injury saw him drift away from the Rebels, ultimately leading to his departure to Japan at the end of the 2015 Super Rugby season.
“I’d been there for a couple of years and I’d played a lot of games and had a bit of injury and unfortunately missed quite a bit of pre-season and things happen,” he said.
“I lost a bit of contact with the team because you’re out. You’re out for six months and it was the same with a couple of other players down there.
“It was fine in the end, we left certainly on good terms and it’s a very good club.”
While he left the Rebels on good terms, Hegarty said a season overseas had helped him reboot mentally and physically.
“At the end of the day, I wasn’t extremely happy at the Rebels and I wanted to go elsewhere and Japan was a real refresher,” he said.
“I feel great coming back here, I feel probably the fittest I’ve ever been, the strongest, mentally I feel really refreshed.
“My time (talking to) the Waratahs, I personally felt they were the best fit and I’m really liking what I’m seeing at the moment.”
While primarily a 10, Hegarty could feature at fullback a possibility that frees up the options for Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson, when choosing how to use utility Kurtley Beale.
“We looked at our squad and saw that what we were short of was a really nice solid player who can fill the flyhalf role if bernard was to get injured and (also) fullback,” Gibson said.
“The thing that attracted me to him (Hegarty) was his all-round ability with his skills, very solid, and the fact that he played two years at the Rebels.
“He’d been the starting fly half there so that kind of experience is pretty valuable.”
Hegarty is expected to have his first run at 10 in next weekend’s trial against the Brumbies in Wagga Wagga.
Signed for one season with the Waratahs, Hegarty said he could yet entertain a return to the Japanese Top League, but is focused first on making it through the 2016 Super Rugby season.