Foley set to stay on as Waratahs coach
Michael Foley’s presentation to the NSW rugby board last week appears to have saved his job, but the coach’s complaints about scheduling have been dismissed by ARU chief executive John O’Neill.
Foley is expected to stay on as the Waratahs Super Rugby coach next season, although no official announcement has been made.
It’s believed he has gained the Waratahs backing to continue on in the role in 2013 after weeks of speculation over his future.
Under-fire for the Waratahs disastrous season, Foley fronted the club board last week and, as part of his submission, argued his players were adversely affected by the ever-growing Test match schedule – that included two Tests at the end of last year in the UK.
Foley said at the time he wasn’t offering excuses for NSW losing a record amount of games, but needed to inform the board of a need to address player welfare differently in the future.
When asked about Foley’s issues with scheduling on Thursday, O’Neill said he didn’t want a slanging match with the Waratahs and sympathised with their heavy injury toll this season.
However, O’Neill stood firm on the necessity of the extra Tests played after last year’s World Cup and said the ARU had received no official complaints from the Waratahs.
“Why did we play those two games last year? – for financial reasons,” said O’Neill.
“We had a $16 million black hole to fill and we were asked by the ARU board to find ways of mitigating the $16 million.
“Which we did and we got it down to about 7 million, through doing all sorts of things to ensure that the ARU’s financial strength upon which everything else survives wasn’t too eroded.
“I can’t see any evidence I’m aware of to cause players to be burnt out.
“I think it’s drawing a long bow to say those two games were a contributor.
“They (Waratahs) were very unlucky with injuries … it happens.”
Foley said the Waratahs weren’t yet looking towards next season and were determined to finish off on a winning note in 2012 against the Brumbies this Saturday and Queensland next weekend.
“Next season is very important for us. But these two games are extremely important,” Foley said on Thursday.
“We haven’t picked a side not to go out there and win – we’ve picked a side to try and win these games.
“For us, it’s about what we can give rather than what we can take away (from finals hopefuls the Brumbies and Reds) and giving some reward for us as a team for the hard work and to the supporters who have been very loyal to us.”
Foley said he was hoping his new-look halves pairing of Grayson Hart at halfback and Bernard Foley at five-eighth would make it difficult for the Brumbies to prepare.
On Thursday, John Ulugia was brought in as a bench replacement for Josh Mann-Rea, who was forced out of Saturday’s match with a broken thumb sustained at training.© AAP 2013
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