The need to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup from New Zealand after 11 straight series losses has kiboshed any simmering tensions between the Brumbies and NSW Waratahs players, says Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley.
The All Blacks are on the cusp of equalling a record 12 straight series wins over their trans-Tasman rivals, with the Bledisloe Cup opener kicking off in Sydney on August 16.
It will come just two weeks after the NSW Waratahs broke through for a maiden Super Rugby title win over the Crusaders, and just three weeks after the Tahs knocked out their bitter rivals the ACT Brumbies in the semi-final.
With 11 Waratahs players joining the Wallabies camp in Bathurst on Wednesday evening after half a week of celebrations, it was the first time have come face to face with the 11 Brumbies players they sent crashing out of the Super Rugby finals.
The squad wasted no time addressing the grudge match, with Foley admitting they had spoken about the game to help put it behind them.
“They put up such a good fight and performed so well at the back end of Super Rugby,” he said on Thursday.
“That’s only good for this squad, that we have that competitive edge when we play each other.
“But when we come together we can gel, put it behind us and have a bit of a laugh about it and move on to the task ahead, which is the All Blacks.”
Foley said no domestic rivalry was bigger than the All Blacks.
“It doesn’t get any bigger, so that’s the exciting thing,” Foley said.
“There’s a place for the (rivalry between) the Waratahs, the Reds and the Brumbies, but once you get into camp we’ve got a goal to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup.
“And the first step is beating the All Blacks in Sydney in 10 days’ time and that’s what we’re looking at.”
Foley also played down suggestions the Waratahs should have more players in the backline after their title victory.
Brumbies comeback king Pat McCabe was seen training on the wing vacated by Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins on Thursday, in an otherwise unchanged backline to the one that clean swept France.
That means Foley looms as the only Waratah to play in the inside backs for the Wallabies, with centre Adam Ashley-Cooper pushed out to the wing, and Israel Folau at fullback.
Foley wouldn’t confirm any backline plans, only saying he was ready to play alongside whoever got the nod.
“It’s been good to play with Nic White and Matt Toomua during the French series. We understood each other’s game quite well,” Foley said.
“If it’s those guys, I’ve already played there a couple of games, then if it’s the Waratahs blokes then I’m pretty familiar with them as well.”
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