Fantastic Foley stakes his claim

2015-10-04 16:04
Bernard Foley (Gallo Images)

London - After two superb tries and a flawless display of place kicking to help fire Australia into the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup, Bernard Foley might have expected better than a reminder that his place in the side was by no means secure.

Such is Australia coach Michael Cheika's unquenchable desire for improvement in his players, however, that his review of Foley's performance in the 33-13 win over England on Saturday came loaded with a hefty caveat or two.

As starter in both of Australia's most important Pool A matches to date, Foley might have assumed he was the number one flyhalf but, in public at least, Cheika was quick to bracket him with the other outside half in his squad, Quade Cooper.

"Yeah, what we're asking of both Bernard and Quade as our two number 10s is to take control of the game, especially in the tough moments," said Cheika.

"And both of them are really growing in that regard. Bernard was really influential, not just with the way he got the points, but also in the way he stood up to take responsibility.

"It wasn't always brilliant but that stepping up to take responsibility and be prepared to guide the team around, he and Quade have really been working on that together while they're competing with each other for a spot and they're only improving each other by doing that."

Often regarded as a "confidence" player, Foley brought to bear the running skills he once displayed as an Australia's sevens captain in his two tries.

His kicking also showed a vast improvement on an underwhelming season from the tee with the New South Wales Waratahs in Super Rugby.

Foley has showed in the past he is the man for the big occasion, however, and he landed a late long-range penalty to give Cheika's Waratahs their maiden Super Rugby title.

Later that same year at the Millennium Stadium, he calmly slotted a drop goal and a penalty in the last 10 minutes to give Australia their 10th successive win over Wales.

Cheika, however, has made it clear he is looking for a complete flyhalf to run his Wallabies backline as they go deeper into the tournament in search of a third World Cup title.

"You can never take that stuff for granted," he added.

"It's up to them to stand up and quarterback the team and tonight Bernard did that quite well."

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