Waratahs ready to measure themselves against Super Rugby yardstick

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

When it comes to Super Rugby yardsticks, the Lions are one of the best in recent years and the Waratahs are keen to see how they measure up on Friday night.

The Johannesburg side has been one of the few to consistently compete with, and beat, New Zealand teams, and the Waratahs want to make a statement against them, flyhalf Bernard Foley said.

“Definitely (it) lays a really good platform for us, especially coming off the last couple of weeks, being able to really (hold) this momentum against a really quality side like the Lions,” he said.

“They've finished (in) the top two the last two years, so they're a serious side and they know how to play a really attacking style of footy that challenges us.

“The Kiwi sides have been the benchmark, but these guys have definitely matched them and they've probably taken it to them the last couple of years.”

The Waratahs' attack has been one of the best so far this season, with the third-highest points differential and second highest points tally at the halfway mark, but Foley said their ability to turn defence into points scored would be the key against the Lions.

“As a side, we're always challenging ourselves to better our attack, to be the best we can be to try and reach that potential,” he said.

“I thought the disappointing thing last weekend was we created a lot of opportunities but we probably gave too many turnovers, especially in those wide channels.

“For us, last week was really pleasing was our defence, letting up one try, that was an intercept and probably coming off our poor play.

“It was really good to see that we can defend, we can defend for long passages and even though the possession wasn't in our favour last week, we were still able to defend and keep them out and then on the back of that score tries.”

The Waratahs have maintained their focus amid the continuing discussion over Israel Folau’s social media comments on homosexuality and Foley said he supported his long-time teammate.

“I support Israel - we don't all believe the same (things) That's his beliefs, his religious beliefs," he said.

“But for me, I've had a lot of chats with Izzy this week, he's a teammate of mine, he's a really good friend and he's a guy I've supported from day one when he first arrived here after his AFL stint.

“He's been nothing but a good friend to me - caring, he's kind and so he's a really good teammate to play with.”

Foley said the Folau controversy had simply brought to light the reality that there are a wide range of

“We don't all have the same beliefs.

“This has probably been a topic of getting that diversity out and the beliefs and that there is diversity within teams, there's diversity within corporations, there's diversity in society and I think one thing I've noticed from Israel is he loves and accepts a lot of people.

“He gets in and he really enjoys understanding and getting to know teammates.

“He's been really good in the time I've spent with him in getting to know a lot of people in the community.”

The Waratahs take on the Lions on Friday at Allianz Stadium, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.