Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley will be taking inspiration from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when he takes the field as the senior head in NSW’s backline on Thursday.
Foley will be playing alongside uncapped Jake Gordon and inside Irae Simone, with the 10 the most capped of the starting NSW backline at Brookvale Oval, 17 ahead of teammate Israel Folau.
With usual halves partner Nick Phipps on the bench and Kurtley Beale now in the UK, Foley said he’d draw on the ‘Tom Brady effect’ to help his teammates in their biggest Super Rugby Test.
“I think it's communication and composure, just ease those guys into the game and just a bit like the Tom Brady effect, just allow them to do their job, not to overplay their hand, not to try and push the pass or do too much for the team,” he said.
“As you always do when you're a young person or inexperienced in a team, you want to go out there and try to prove yourself first up, but for those guys, they're really capable footballers and naturally very athletic.”
“It's just for them to do their job for the team and that's the way we can all help each other out.”
“It's not just me, it's for everyone in the team just to focus on doing their role, doing it at best ability and I'm sure we'll get the outcomes.” - Bernard Foley
Foley, whose brother Connor plays for Australia's gridiron team, said Brady's exploits were certainly something to aspire to.
"He's a very impressive athlete or just sportsman I think, the way that he can control himself and show that composure, especially in those drives, in that Super Bowl," he said.
Assistant coach Nathan Grey said they wouldn’t be putting any extra weight on Foley’s shoulders, but the playmaker already bears a hefty load.
“The way we want to play, those guys steer us around the park, that 9-10 steer us around the park, so it's going to be a great challenge for those guys and from Bernard, we want more of the same from him,” he said.
The Waratahs are expecting a lot of their young brigade this season, with Andrew Kellaway voted into their leadership group at just 21, signaling the importance they are placing in their next generation.
A preseason initially devoid of Test players, with the Waratahs giving their Wallabies the longest rest of any Super Rugby franchise, forced Kellaway, Simone and co to take the next step.
“The biggest part of this preseason is the guys who have played a little bit or debuted in Super Rugby last year is for them reaching their potential this year,” Foley said.
“There was a bit of a void of senior experienced players throughout that preseason when the Wallaby guys weren't here and I think those guys really took great initiative and ran the team and that's what we'll be asking for from them throughout this year, is that they can step up and reach their potential.”
“They have had their first taste of Super Rugby, they know what this competition is and they know what the demands on themselves and the rest of the team are.”
“Those guys are the ones that I'm really excited to see prosper this year.”
The Waratahs will take on the Highlanders on Thursday at Brookvale Oval, a ground Foley has never visited, but hopes is as hostile for their Kiwi opponents as it is for Manly’s NRL foes.
NSW takes on the Highlanders on Thursday, kicking off at 6:30pm AEST, streamed live on waratahs.com.au