Bernard Foley (Gallo Images)
London - Bernard Foley and Dan Biggar - who
put England's World Cup hopes to the sword on successive weekends - go
boot-to-boot on Saturday.
If Foley triumphs then Australia will
probably top Pool A, the toughest group at the World Cup. If Biggar stamps his
authority, Wales will be the winners.
Both came to the tournament in the shadow
of high profile fly-halves such as Dan Carter, Frederic Michalak and Jonathan
Sexton. But as the pool stage reaches its climax Foley and Biggar have taken
Biggar, who was not Wales' first choice
kicker one month ago, planted the first dagger into England with 23 points in
Wales' 28-25 win over the hosts. It was the highest haul for a Welshman against
England, no mean feat given kicking duties had been imposed on him with the injury
to Leigh Halfpenny.
"If you concede penalties to them then
they will crucify you," said Wallabies defence coach Nathan Grey in a
compliment to Biggar and Wales.
Foley - who like Biggar is 26 - landed the
killer blow to England's World Cup chances one week later. Again in front of a
packed Twickenham crowd.
His 28 points, including two superb tries,
eclipsed Matt Burke's 1998 mark of 21 points scored by an Australian against
"He's a real threat at the
moment," was Wales coach Warren Gatland's assessment of the former Sevens
Foley, who blossomed under Michael Cheika's
tutelage at the Waratahs and repaid his faith with a stunning long range penalty
30 seconds from full-time to give them their first Super Rugby title last year,
is a big fan of Biggar.
"The way he has controlled the Wales
games, he has been outstanding and his goal-kicking speaks for itself,"
For Biggar it has not been a seamless ride
to international stardom after winning the first of his 37 caps aged just 19.
But Gatland - never the easiest man to please -- appreciates that his
persistence has brought its rewards.
"Dan's competitive streak got him
through a difficult period and saw him come back stronger and better,"
said the New Zealander.
Neil Jenkins, Wales's record Test points
scorer with 1 049 points, believes Biggar belongs with the Carters and the
"For me, Dan is not far from being one
of the best fly-halves in the world," said the 44-year-old, who is the
Welsh team's kicking coach.
"He is exceptional kicking for goal,
and has been since he was 15 when I first got to know him at the club I was
"He has never had to work too hard on
"He is in a good place mentally and
has all the parts needed for a good kicker."
Gatland, who orchestrated the British and
Irish Lions 2-1 Test series win over the Wallabies two years ago, said that
closing down Foley was imperative.
"He's a real threat at the
moment," said Gatland.
"His relationship with (scrumhalf
Will)Genia has developed.
"A player we're conscious of will pose
us problems. We will look to shut him down as much as we can, try to pressure
"He brings players in often and is a
"His goal-kicking has been pretty good
Genia for said Foley, who will win his 24th
cap on Saturday, had grown up fast in the daunting Test arena.
"He has got a really good all round
game," said Genia.
"He is a good passer of the ball and a
good kicker whilst his communication and leadership has come on in leaps and
bounds as was clear last weekend when he controlled the game really well."
Cheika, though, says Foley is still a work
"There is no special relationship
between him and I," said Cheika.
"He is a tough man, for in the past
three years at Waratahs he has never been injured.
"Foley is someone who is still in a
developing phase. He has a lot of experience to gain as a flyhalf."