Folau going to new level for Wallabies

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley says we’re seeing a new side of Israel Folau, after the fullback put in another impressive performance against the Pumas.

Foley, who was sporting a swollen eye post-match, said Folau’s effort on Saturday night was a sign of the fullback’s growth.

Folau had his fourth double in seven Tests in Canberra, putting aside a controversial week to star, but it was more than his finishing that impressed Foley.

“He's been exceptional for us and his input around training, around games has been something that I've seen him grow to a new level,” he said.

“(It’s) something he probably hasn't really excelled or tried to do in the past but I think he's really developing and maturing as a player and you saw tonight him just getting involved, wanting that ball, wanting to be in the play rather than letting the play come to him.

“He went and found the ball and he scored some good tries, but it was the stuff off the ball, his work rate and his attacking prowess that set up those games.” - Bernard Foley.

Foley, who was made a Wallabies vice-captain this year, said the players wanted to make sure they took the lead after a mediocre first half, addressing the team in the sheds to spark a shift.

It was a sign that coach Michael Cheika pointed to as a sign of the team’s increasing maturity, and Foley agreed.

“The guys really took ownership and knew what was going wrong and addressed it,” he said.

“We didn't have to wait for the coaches to come in and give us the typical Cheika spray at half-time.

“We wanted to get on top of it and address it before anyone and we were able to do that at half-time and get the guys, get the focus back on track and I think what grew in that second half is the potential and the belief in this side.

“We know we can be a really quality side and really challenging and competing with the best sides in the world when we show that belief and persistence to the way we want to  play.

“We can't just rock up and expect it there, or not show the intensity for 40 minutes and expect to be in the fight.

As for what the message was, Foley said they simply had to return to the ball-in-hand style they usually prefer.

“We definitely spoke about the lack of intensity in that first half and probably trying to force the pass, probably tried to kick our way out of territory and probably were losing that,” he said.

“(It was) really to go back to our structures and look at holding the ball, look at playing the way we wanted to play and getting that momentum that way, rather than trying to kick or play the territory.”

Foley had a perfect six-from-six against the Pumas, his second perfect outing in a row off the boot after a patchy effort against the All Blacks in Dunedin, but he said he hadn’t dwelled on that performance.

“Whenever you're kicking, you want to kick your best and that game was disappointing," he said.

“It was one game and I suppose you're only as good as your last kick, so that was my mentality - to keep working on things, keep improving and, with the likes of (Wallabies skills coach) Mick Byrne, keep working on it and the last two games it's done well and just got to keep it continuing.”