Foley to forge own centre path

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies inside back Bernard Foley has seen plenty of teammates make the move from flyhalf to inside centre, but he doesn’t want to replicate their journey.

Foley saw firsthand Kurtley Beale’s shift to the 12 spot, while teammates Matt Giteau and Matt Toomua are all flyhalves who have made the move.

Wallabies defence coach Nathan Grey carved out his career at centre too, but Foley said he hasn’t spent too much time trying to find out how they coped.

“I did have a good chat to Matt Giteau, who was around in the early part of that week and [about] playing alongside Quade as well but I haven't really sought outside knowledge, I’m just playing my own game,” he said.

 Bernard Foley sees parallels between himself and Beale. Photo: Getty Images“I'm not out there to try and be a Nathan Grey or a Matt Giteau. 

“I’m still adjusting to number12 and this week will give us more understanding of how Quade and I are going to play it."

While he doesn’t necessarily want to be anyone else, he could see parallels between himself and former teammate Beale, who is currently recovering from a knee injury at UK club Wasps.

“I think just that energy and enthusiasm for the ball,” he said.

“Kurtley, when he first went into 12, he just loves to play footy whether he’s at first receiver or end of the line, he’s just trying to keep attacking.

Bernard Foley says he's working on his partnership with Quade Cooper. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“I can give Quade a second voice in the backline with tactics and take on the first receiver role at times so he can plan the next move," he said.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has added Kyle Godwin to the Wallabies squad for the Brisbane and Perth Tests, giving the side another possible option while Reece Hodge has made his Test debut off the bench in Wellington.

Cheika said after the Wellington Test that he was keen to persist with the Foley-Cooper combination but Foley said he had thought little about the long-term future.

“I’ve enjoyed the challenge and I just want to be the team regardless of the number on my back, just helping this team, whether that's at 10 or 12.”

The Wallabies' defence has been in the spotlight. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Wallabies backline is a fluid one, with a structure shuffling between attack and defence, a tactic that has been criticised in recent Tests after Australia’s mounting missed tackle count.

Foley said their defensive lapses in the Bledisloe Tests were simply a matter of learning about the players around them, with injuries and new blood changing up their combinations in recent weeks.

“It’d be naive for us to think we’d be able to walk in and all click,” he said.

“We need time to gel and we’re also having discussions and finding out what they [the new players] enjoy doing and what their weaknesses are.

“It’s about everyone going out there and playing their natural game.”

Bernard Foley says the Wallabies still have belief. Photo; Getty ImagesAfter a week off, the Wallabies have arrived in Brisbane and Foley said despite a six-Test losing streak dating back to last November, there was plenty of faith in the side.

"As disappointing as those games were we have to keep persisting with what we want to do in the long run," he said.

"We've learned a lot from those two weeks and it should put us in a good position going forward."

The Wallabies convened in Brisbane on Sunday night, ahead of Saturday’s Test against the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium.

South Africa will be just as desperate for a win in the Test, after losing to Los Pumas in Argentina, with next weekend’s match a potentially defining one for both teams.