No Quade gives Foley close to a free ride

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    Bernard Foley could be a lot worse for the Waratahs than Matt Renshaw was with the bat for Queensland pre-Ashes but still comfortably get picked for Australia’s first Test this year.

    Since making his Wallabies debut against Argentina in late 2013, Foley has maintained a tight hold as Australia’s premier five-eighth and shown plenty of class in doing so.

    He was central to the Tahs’ Super Rugby title in 2014 and outstanding in Australia’s surge to the World Cup final a year later.

    He’s been bashed by the best flankers in the world, copped plenty for his goal-kicking battles, overcome serious concussions – but consistently he’s proven to be a top-end No.10 with the full bag of tricks in attack and sturdy defence.

    But Foley heads into this Super Rugby season arguably in a relatively cushy position.

    If he took time to dwell on his chances of racking up another full year as Wallabies five-eighth, he could probably concede he’s got few rivals poised to rip his jersey off his back.

    bernard foley makes break

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    No Quade Cooper. Kurtley Beale is also at the Tahs but preferred at inside centre. Matt Toomua is still in England.

    The Brumbies will likely stick with Wharenui Hawera, a New Zealander, at five-eighth. Christian Lealiifano might play a bit at No.10 and mostly at inside centre, but even after a solid stint at Ulster in Ireland after recovering from cancer, he will take time to settle back into the high-paced Super Rugby competition.

    The Melbourne Rebels will have either a rookie – Tayler Adams or Jack McGregor – or Jack Debreczeni, who would need significant improvement to challenge for a Wallabies start.

    The Queensland Reds will be steered around at fly-half by Jono Lance – a solid performer – or Hamish Stewart, Duncan Paiaaua or Ben Lucas.

    As far as potential candidates go for the Wallabies five-eighth jersey, Foley enjoys a large gap over the field (it could be argued that Will Genia has done the same with Wallabies aspirants for his halfback jersey).

    You would think that if a Test team had to be selected tomorrow and Foley was injured, his Waratahs teammate Beale would get the nod – not any of the other specialist five-eighths in Australia.

    As a comparison, Beauden Barrett is kept honest as the All Blacks’ five-eighth by Lima Sopoaga – although he’s moving on to England at the end of this Super Rugby season – as well as Chiefs playmaker Damian McKenzie and the Crusaders’ Richie Mo’unga.

    Amongst most top teams in many sports around the world, you’ll find success thrives when competition for spots is fierce.

    When Brad Thorn told Quade Cooper to pack ‘em up at the Reds, Foley’s biggest rival was gone.

    Granted, Cooper was already on the outer with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika – who cut him loose last season – but Thorn effectively closed the door on the glimmer of hope he had of resurrecting his Wallabies career in Australia.

    Cooper is the type that could be five red-hot games from putting heat on Foley.

    Reds Super Rugby player Quade Cooper

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    When Toomua and Lealiifano had the Brumbies’ backline humming a few seasons ago – swapping between the No.10 and No.12 jerseys – they were both pushing Foley hard.

    Foley now has an armchair ride; he could wear Okanuis and thongs for the Tahs while sipping on a Negroni and still get chosen for the June Tests against Ireland. He’s earned that standing after four years as the country’s number one No.10.

    Of course, he’s a seasoned professional. He sets high standards. Cheika would likely view him as one of the main men to lift Australian rugby following a dismal 12 months.

    Foley is a playmaker, No.1 goal-kicker and pretty experienced now. He’s going to be in the top five most-influential figures if the Wallabies are to – dare one dream – win the Bledisloe Cup this year and the World Cup next year.

    So given there’s no one really breathing down his neck at national level, how does Cheika – and Tahs coach Daryl Gibson – get the best out of him?

    There’s more urgency for Gibson, who needs wins early to have any chance of signing a new contract following two poor seasons.

    It’s Foley’s running game that needs to be encouraged. He can be lethal. The two games that stand out are last year’s Bledisloe III win in Brisbane and the Wallabies’ World Cup pool win over a shellshocked England at Twickenham in 2015.

    Not only does he possess the pace to scythe through holes, but taking on the defensive line more will take a bit of pressure off Beale at inside centre for the Tahs.

    If the Waratahs and Wallabies are to turn their fortunes around this year, Foley is one of the high rollers of Australian rugby that can spark change. But with the specialist five-eighth landscape as it is, can Gibson and Cheika ensure he’s not complacent? Can they get the best out of him?

    Will Knight
    Will Knight

    An AAP writer for more than a decade, Will Knight does his best to make sense of all things cricket, rugby union and rugby league, all while trying to have a laugh along the way. You can find him on Twitter @WKnightrider.

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    The Crowd Says (226)

    • February 2nd 2018 @ 7:25am
      Selector said | February 2nd 2018 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      Very good point Will and something I have been concerned about for quite a while.

      It says a lot about how Chek selects his teams too. On one hand I get sticking with what you know and always giving incumbents the head start. But, it also says to the other horses in the race… No matter what you can deliver in Superrugby, I will most put the 10 jersey on Foley. I think this will exacerbate the depth issue and send more overseas in the near future. Lance and Lealiifano will be examples of this.

      Foley has too many inefficiencies in his game to be considered a lock in the 10 position. His stunted kicking etc, if they are not resolved at this stage for his career, they won’t be. I unfortunately say the same for Cooper, despite how much I am a fan of his attacking game.

      I would love to see Chek come out and say publicly that he is looking for a 10 to take to the world cup that has all the attributes of a world class player maker and he has a clean slate of who that player will be. If anyone can show him those qualities this season, he will take them on tour and look to build a backline around them. That may be Foley, it may not, but at least let all players that regularly play in the 10 jersey, that they are in with a shot.

      • Roar Guru

        February 2nd 2018 @ 10:47am
        jeznez said | February 2nd 2018 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        Yep, in the past we’ve not had anyone other than Quade knocking on the door.

        Lance has been marked for higher honours but gotten injured before he could take his chances. He’ll need to maintain his good form and stay on the pitch to be considered an alternate.

        Lealiifano is the one most likely to challenge IMO. I disagree with the author, I think he is almost certain to the the Brumbies 10 with Kyle Godwin outside him. If he has a good year then he will be in the frame.

        The Rebels are the great mystery. Will Horwitz, Maddocks or Debreczeni get the nod? Debra has shown nothing to suggest he’ll be a Wallabies candidate. The other two are unknown. Hodge is an outside chance here as well.

        CLL is my pick if he has a strong season and gets the Brumbies scoring more tries. Fingers crossed that he goes well.

        Sadly even if he does, Cheika will likely stick with his incumbent – but that will give us on here plenty to talk about.

        • February 2nd 2018 @ 3:30pm
          hello said | February 2nd 2018 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

          Agree with you Jez

        • February 2nd 2018 @ 5:39pm
          Mmmmm..k said | February 2nd 2018 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

          I’ve not seen Cheika stick with anyone in particular.
          When QC was in horrible form he still got selected for tests ahead of Foley in 2015.

          I personally think much of this talk about Cheika sticking with players over others that deserve it is false. I see no evidence of it at all tbh.

          I also see Cheika blooding way more players than other countries usually do.

          QC should have gone the same way as England Cipriani a long time ago imo. QC has a cult following based on very little substance.

          He’s an inconsistent, injury prone, low percentage player that often did more damage to his own teams chances than he did to the other teams.

          Now before you go on the attack…Dean’s dropped him, Cheika dropped him, Toulon dropped him and Thorn isn’t even interested.
          There is a reason.

          • Roar Guru

            February 2nd 2018 @ 7:53pm
            jeznez said | February 2nd 2018 @ 7:53pm | ! Report

            Did I suggest Cooper was an option?

            Cheika has a group of players that he struggles to drop and even after he drops them he tends to go back to them again.

            Other players he is quick to drop and takes a long time to give a chance to.

            Hanigan, Phipps, Foley all sit in that first basket.

            Guys like Arnold, Timani and Higginbotham are in the second.

            He tends to bring Speight in much more readily than he does Naivalu.

            There are quite a few examples. Will be interesting to see if he sticks with Robertson this season as we should finally have Slipper fit again.

            He had Coleman on the outer for a long time but eventually realised he is the first picked lock.

            Simmons he can’t make his mind up, dropping him often and almost as quickly bringing him back.

            • February 3rd 2018 @ 10:54am
              Mmmmm..k said | February 3rd 2018 @ 10:54am | ! Report

              You’ve just described every coach ever Jez.
              Every coach has a plan in mind and an idea of what he wants a player to offer.
              He does select players quickly, he also doesn’t with others until they work on what he wants them to.
              Higgs is not what he wants in an 8 with Hooper at 7 imo. It’s that simple.
              Phipps does stay in and around the team but that’s because of the lack of depth in that position.
              Genia came back and Phipps was dropped down a notch.
              Anyway, all coaches do this but Cheika does what you describe less than most other coaches.

          • February 3rd 2018 @ 2:00am
            Crash Ball2 said | February 3rd 2018 @ 2:00am | ! Report

            “I’ve not seen Cheika stick with anyone in particular.”

            Is there much gravity on your planet?

            What brings you to the Milky Way strange traveller?

            • February 3rd 2018 @ 10:45am
              Mmmmm..k said | February 3rd 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

              Cheika swaps 1-23 more than most coaches do.
              Just because he doesn’t pick who you think he should does not make you right and him wrong.
              This is a fact.

              Some examples…?

              And Jez, Speight miss selection at all?
              I can’t recall him being a guaranteed member of the 23 much with Naivalu, Koroibete, HP and a few others getting selected when fit.

              Cheika does not pick and stick. He just doesn’t, so why say he does.
              Is it just looking for a thing to complain about?

              P.S. I’m not a Cheika fan in the slightest.

              • February 3rd 2018 @ 2:39pm
                Taylorman said | February 3rd 2018 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

                He picks and sticks with Moore, Hooper, Pocock, Foley, and previously Mumm big time. So yeah he does, just not with everyone.

              • February 3rd 2018 @ 3:43pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 3rd 2018 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

                He sticks with the captains?
                How odd.
                He did NOT stick with Mumm who was dropped many times.
                Mumm played lock and 6 in a time when Coleman, Arnold, Simmons, Fardy, Hannigan, Timani and many others played in the same positions.
                How is that sticking with him?
                Besides, Mumm has a big target painted on him for haters and those looking to blame somebody. Often he would be OK and still singled out in the blame game despite others being much worse.
                He sticks with Foley because there was/is a COMPLETE lack of anyone better. It’s the same reason all coaches select players.

              • February 3rd 2018 @ 6:14pm
                Crash Ball2 said | February 3rd 2018 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

                Oh, no doubt that there are fast spinning turnstiles surrounding the ringfenced untouchables for whom performance and/or capability are secondary requirements.

              • February 3rd 2018 @ 6:56pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 3rd 2018 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

                Still no examples with replacements that clearly are better.

                “The grass is always greener” selector.

                It’s odd how none make it to any kind of coaching job let alone a top coaching job.

                As said and Cheikas massive amount of debutants indicates, what you accuse him of is the opposite of reality.

          • February 3rd 2018 @ 12:53pm
            TC said | February 3rd 2018 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

            personally think much of this talk about Cheika sticking with players over others that deserve it is false. I see no evidence of it at all tbh.

            Really? Hanigan, Phips, Robertson – these guys aren’t the second best in their positions, yet are in most match day 23s.

            • February 3rd 2018 @ 4:05pm
              Mmmmm..k said | February 3rd 2018 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

              Who’s better than Hannigan?
              Who’s better than Phipps?

              There is a huge lack of depth in those positions, hence their on again-off again selection.

              This is simply a chance to complain about Cheikas selections because they don’t match your own, as if he’s clearly doing the wrong thing because his opinion differs from yours.

              I don’t like Cheika, I think he’s really immature and a bad influence on Aus rugby. He complains about every decision against his team, he blames the refs after every loss, he’s just not good imo.
              However, he does select and blood a lot of new players and has a history of chopping and changing the team (too often imo) and yet here we are having a debate about him not giving players a go?
              He does, has and will continue to.

              I just think that Aus doesn’t have the quality and depth that Eng, Ire, and NZ has from 1-23.
              I think Ire, Scotland, Eng, SA, Wales and NZ all have teams that match up well in terms of quality and depth against Aus. Times have changed.

              So naturally people blame the coach and his refusal to play “better” players than the ones he selects but the truth is that Aus just doesn’t have those miracle players you’ve dreamed up.

              • February 3rd 2018 @ 4:23pm
                Fionn said | February 3rd 2018 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

                ‘Who’s better than Hannigan?’

                Scott Fardy, Scott Higginbotham, Adam Korczyk, Ross Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick, Lopeti Timani, Chris Alcock just off the top of my head…

                ‘Who’s better than Phipps?’

                Joe Powell, Jake Gordon, Michael Ruru…

              • February 3rd 2018 @ 7:05pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 3rd 2018 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

                Oh so Cheika picks the worst players in Super Rugby.
                OK, its clear we are not going to come to any agreement here.

                For the record, I don’t fully agree with any coaches decisions when it comes to selection but I’m not silly enough to think he doesn’t know the basics of rugby.

                You know Cheikas a pro coach and this isn’t his first rodeo right?

                I think if he’d picked one off your list you would simply replace that players name with “Hannigan”.

                Just a hunch.

              • February 3rd 2018 @ 7:44pm
                Crash Ball2 said | February 3rd 2018 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

                “Who’s better than Hanigan or Phipps?”

                If nothing else Mmmm. I admire your ambition.

              • February 3rd 2018 @ 9:39pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 3rd 2018 @ 9:39pm | ! Report

                Still no examples.

                As I’ve said, Cheika has selected more debutants than most.
                That’s the reality.

                All “the grass is greener” selectors are crying foul, as they would no matter what. Even if Cheika selected heaps of debutants…which he does, you would still still complain…which you are.

                Phipps is under pressure from VERY young players who are fairly new to top level rugby.
                Mumm has been dropped.
                Fardy has gone so he’s looking for a viable lineout 6 and 8 that suit his game plan.
                He’s tried quite a few, Higgers, Timani, McMahon, McCalman, Mumm and a few others have been given runs. He hasn’t just stick with 1 or 2 players there.

                But naturally anyone who’s a Tah is a target (sigh) and his selection isn’t justified.

                Anyway, the grass isn’t always greener. That’s the whole idea of the saying.

              • February 4th 2018 @ 1:43am
                Crash Ball2 said | February 4th 2018 @ 1:43am | ! Report

                No examples? Aren’t we proposing the very specific examples?

              • February 4th 2018 @ 9:45am
                Mmmmm..k said | February 4th 2018 @ 9:45am | ! Report

                Yes Cheika only picks a Phipps…along with White, Genia, Powell and Frisby.
                Dean’s and McKezie wouldn’t have picked Phipps…but they did (sigh).

                This reminds me of how Dean’s was bad because he selected Hooper over Gill and how McKenzie would change that and make things right.
                Nek minnit.

              • Roar Guru

                February 5th 2018 @ 11:58am
                jeznez said | February 5th 2018 @ 11:58am | ! Report

                Mmmm…K the whole point I raised was that there are certain players he gives cap after cap to, even when they aren’t setting the world alight.

                We’ve given specific example of who some of these players are.

                And alternates for their positions have been put up, that are given limited and in some cases no chances.

                Moore vs Uelese and Latu
                Robertson vs Smith and Faulkner
                Mumm/Hanigan vs Fardy, Higginbotham, Jones, Timani
                Phipps vs Powell and Gordon

                I stand by my statement at the top. He just plain hasn’t given the players on the right hand side of the list the chances he has given to the players on the left.

                If the players on the lefthand side were all going great in the international set up, that would be rewarding performance but all of those players have or had issues that are quite obvious with their games.

                The alternates are all credible and deserve or deserved more of a chance to prove their worth.

              • February 5th 2018 @ 6:22pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 5th 2018 @ 6:22pm | ! Report

                Jez, how many Super Rugby games has the multi test capped Powell had?

                Fardy was off over seas. Alternative was then tested. He played Fardy a lot originally.

                Higgers and Hooper isn’t ideal.

                Naturally we all question selections, especially when we want to blame something or somebody for the team not being as good as we want.
                Then we start saying how the fringe players would be better, like Frisby or Godwin. I’ve heard how those guys should be picked.
                In most cases they’re not better but sometimes they are.

                I honestly don’t see a “must pick” 6 or 8 in Aus yet.
                I would like to see Powell get more of a run, which he will.
                Mumms gone because viable alternatives are ready at lock.
                Moore’s gone.

                Cheika has debuted a lot of players and does give players a go.

              • Roar Guru

                February 6th 2018 @ 11:01am
                jeznez said | February 6th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

                If you want to ask how many Super caps Powell has then you start to make my case for me.

                He has 26 Brumbies caps to go with his 3 appearances for the Wallabies.

                Hanigan only has 15 Waratahs caps to go with his 12 appearances for the Wallabies.

                Hanigan showed early that he wasn’t ready for the International stage but was persisted with over other options until he was finally dropped. He is a perfect example of what we are talking about.

                And to say Fardy was off overseas is disingenuous – he left because he was clearly told he was down the pecking order – despite being a strong performer whenever given a shot.

                Similarly do you think if Higgers had been given an extended run in the squad that he couldn’t have modified his game?

    • February 2nd 2018 @ 7:27am
      Cynical Play said | February 2nd 2018 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      All the eggs are in one basket. Surely the June series will see the true understudy but it’s anyones guess as to who that will be. There’s time to work up one of the newer SR recruits but only if there is a truely skilled 10 with the courage for the coliseum. Other than that it’s probably Lance for now.

      • February 3rd 2018 @ 8:45am
        Ed said | February 3rd 2018 @ 8:45am | ! Report

        If we lose the first test against Ireland, Foley will be on the pitch for the other two tests unless he is injured.
        The first opportunity for an understudy to have time in the role would most likely be against the Pumas. I think the last time Foley was replaced was the Fiji test last year.

        • February 3rd 2018 @ 10:17am
          Nick Ferris said | February 3rd 2018 @ 10:17am | ! Report

          Do you presume that if the Wallabies lose to Ireland, it will be Foley’s fault?

          • February 3rd 2018 @ 11:26am
            Ed said | February 3rd 2018 @ 11:26am | ! Report

            No. It would be the fault of the players and the coach.

            Ireland have a few advantages – their coach and that they would have played as a unit more recently than the Wallabies. Also, the Irish squad will be together nearly a week sooner (if Irish sides are in the Pro14 final) than the Wallabies. The full Wallabies squad won’t be together until five days before the first test.

            • February 3rd 2018 @ 4:17pm
              Mmmmm..k said | February 3rd 2018 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

              Ireland also have a better 9, a better 10, a better 6 and 8, a better front row, and imo a better centre pairing.

              Simply put, Ireland are the better team.

              • February 4th 2018 @ 1:41am
                Crash Ball2 said | February 4th 2018 @ 1:41am | ! Report

                A better 7.

                Missed one. I got it.

              • February 4th 2018 @ 9:52am
                Mmmmm..k said | February 4th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

                Is the J.VDF better because he doesn’t play for the Tahs?

                Anyway, Hooper is recognised as one of the best players on earth and is an excellent 7. Many in Europe think he’s the best 7 in the world.
                I think he’s probably Australia’s best player and his constant high ranking in the J.Eales medal supports that theory.

                You know better though.

              • February 5th 2018 @ 9:24am
                Crash Ball2 said | February 5th 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

                No doubt, he is an excellent player. But, he wasn’t even the Wallabies best backrower this season.

                None the less, by comparison, I’d select Sean O’Brien every time.

              • Roar Guru

                February 5th 2018 @ 9:39am
                Fionn said | February 5th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

                I think Genia is probably better than Murray. Agree Ireland are clearly superior at 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10 and probably 12.

                Much of that is down to superior coaching, game plan and selection, however.

      • February 3rd 2018 @ 8:02pm
        PiratesRugby said | February 3rd 2018 @ 8:02pm | ! Report

        Wait until the June tests? How many chances does Foley need to establish his mediocrity? Australia will not win the Bled or the RWC with Foley at 10 (or Hooper at 7 but that’s worth another article). It was true when I said it two years ago and it is true now. It will still be true when cheika frogmarches Australian rugby through humiliation at RWC19.

    • February 2nd 2018 @ 7:46am
      Old One Eye said | February 2nd 2018 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      Foley’s “sturdy defence”…..oh how I laughed.

      • February 2nd 2018 @ 8:10am
        Ruckin Oaf said | February 2nd 2018 @ 8:10am | ! Report

        It was the full bag of tricks that got me.

        • February 2nd 2018 @ 8:21am
          Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

          It was pretty impressive that he managed to set up tries for both Scotland and the Wallabies in the space of 5 mins by throwing perfect pass to the Scottish player when under no pressure and then kicking a great grubber for TK last year.

          • February 2nd 2018 @ 2:32pm
            aussikiwi said | February 2nd 2018 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

            I remember saying during that game that Foley had the most try assists but two of them were for the opposition.

        • February 2nd 2018 @ 4:25pm
          Old One Eye said | February 2nd 2018 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

          Thankfully no mention of his prodigious touch finders or I may have needed medical assistance.

          • February 3rd 2018 @ 2:36am
            Crash Ball2 said | February 3rd 2018 @ 2:36am | ! Report

            Bravo sir

        • February 4th 2018 @ 5:41pm
          Garry said | February 4th 2018 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

          Reading this article I felt suckered. Surely this is a Dorothy Dix article, tongue firmly in cheek, to create emotive responses during the quiet off season. Well done sir.

          But then I saw all the supportive comments, now I’m confused?

      • February 3rd 2018 @ 11:10am
        Dan in Devon said | February 3rd 2018 @ 11:10am | ! Report

        Foleys bag of tricks was the punchline for me! This is a pointless article – Coopers form or presence has no bearing on Foleys position as Wallaby half. Cooper has a far superior win rate as a starting half but these facts have long ceased to matter etc. Hopefully Wallabies can sort their horrible exit kicking with a number of kicking options in the backs.

        • February 3rd 2018 @ 4:23pm
          Mmmmm..k said | February 3rd 2018 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

          The win rate is not Cooper’s.

          The win is created by 23 players for your team, 23 from theirs, the coaching staff and a lot of other factors.

          As I’ve said above, Toulon dropped Cooper, Dean’s did, Cheika did and now Thorn doesn’t even want him in the squad.

          Maybe those coaches just don’t like winning.

          • February 3rd 2018 @ 7:14pm
            Dan in Devon said | February 3rd 2018 @ 7:14pm | ! Report

            Cheika a winning coach? Look at his last two matches – he broke records but for losing! Enough said.

            • February 3rd 2018 @ 7:20pm
              Fionn said | February 3rd 2018 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

              The only tier 1 teams that Cheika’s Wallabies have won against more than 50% of the time are Wales and Argentina.

            • February 3rd 2018 @ 9:46pm
              Mmmmm..k said | February 3rd 2018 @ 9:46pm | ! Report

              I’m pretty sure I named more than just Cheika.
              I’m pretty sure I named most of QCs top level coaches.
              Wait, I’ll check…yep, I did.

              • February 4th 2018 @ 4:50am
                Dan in Devon said | February 4th 2018 @ 4:50am | ! Report

                And all bar Thorn have been sacked for poor performances!

              • February 4th 2018 @ 10:05am
                Mmmmm..k said | February 4th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

                No, they haven’t been sacked.

                But Stiles was he backed Quade at the Reds.
                McKenzie won less than Dean’s and quit, he backed Quade for Australia didn’t he?

                Toulons coach, Noves, wasn’t sacked at Toulon.
                Thorn wasn’t sacked.
                Cheika wasn’t sacked.
                Dean’s was Australia’s coach for 7 years and has won every domestic comp he’s coaches in, but yeah, he was sacked after winning a higher % with the team than the ave in the Pro era.

                All coaches get sacked eventually.
                Look at McKenzie, he’s quit once and been sacked twice.
                He did pick QC though.

    • February 2nd 2018 @ 7:54am
      Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      Lealiifano played 10 for most of his last couple of seasons in Australia. Do you have an inside scoop that he will be preferred at 12? If not, I don’t why you assume he’ll play there, as McKellar hasn’t announced it yet.

      Foley is not a top flight 10. Nick Bishop and other analysts have shown that time and again. He’s either poor to serviceable depending on who you talk to (aside from certain elements in the NSW media).

      The premier NH competitions are just as good as SR these days, and likely better than the Aus and SA conferences, and Christian did wonderfully for Ulster.

      Lealiifano will almost certainly outplay Foley as Christian is simply the superior player – in kicking, passing, game management and defence.

      That said, you’re probably right Foley is guaranteed to start every match at 10

      • February 2nd 2018 @ 8:02am
        Cynical Play said | February 2nd 2018 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        Are you going to put words in Nick Bishops mouth again this year? Try just leading with “in my opinion” and then carry on.

        Looking forward to seeing your assertion that CL will “almost certainly outplay Foley” play out, as he never has in the past.

        • February 2nd 2018 @ 8:20am
          Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 8:20am | ! Report

          Cynical Play, you misspelled ‘usually’ as ‘never’.

          Please go and check Nick’s articles on Foley and go and check Christian’s performances as 10.

          He never says he is rubbish, but he definitely says that he is not top flight. Go check the comments on his latest article and he is suggesting that it would be in the Wallabies’ best interests to find an alternative to Foley (his reasoning was defence).

          • February 2nd 2018 @ 8:39am
            Cynical Play said | February 2nd 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

            “Poor to serviceable” according to who you talk to, eh? Who are these other analysts who have shown this “ shown time and time again”. All your words.

            • February 2nd 2018 @ 8:41am
              Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

              Sorry, I should rephrase myself.

              Aside from a section of NSW fans who are extremely biased (even most NSW fans recognise he isn’t great) and various journalists at the SMH everyone agrees he is between poor to serviceable, not a top flight international 10.

              I would have thought the Roar’s ratings of Foley time and again (which survey a large number of rugby fans across Australia) should indicate how people think of him. His record on the Roar’s ratings definitely reflect someone that is considered to be poor to serviceable.

              • February 2nd 2018 @ 10:01am
                Cynical Play said | February 2nd 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

                there you go again…”everyone agrees he is poor to serviceable”… you make the error time after time of speaking for “everyone” when you are but one.

                Thankfully the greater rugby fraternity disagree with you and his in the incumbent Wallaby 10.

              • February 2nd 2018 @ 10:06am
                Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

                I’ve provided evidence of it through the Roar’s crowd results…

                Check the comments on this page and see how the majority feel.

                Or, you know, you could continue like the Black Knight ‘it’s only a flesh wound’.

                And, no, Cheika disagrees with me… How are his results going?

              • Roar Rookie

                February 2nd 2018 @ 10:43am
                Paul D said | February 2nd 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

                “Aside from a section of NSW fans who are extremely biased (even most NSW fans recognise he isn’t great) and various journalists at the SMH everyone agrees he is between poor to serviceable, not a top flight international 10.”

                Except for all those pesky World Rugby Player of the year lists where he appears on the list ahead of every other Australian playmaker and most international ones.

                You know, like

                Just a few examples. But I guess that doesn’t count as Rugby World Magazine must be a SMH publication and Wales is actually in NSW.

                It also seems like Jack our Author rates Foley (and he’s from QLD!). Roar crowd votes are worth less than nothing.

              • February 2nd 2018 @ 10:57am
                Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 10:57am | ! Report

                So people outside of Australia who don’t often watch him?

                Oh, you mean the one by Wales online (the one team we always beat and play well against in Test rugby).

                But you’re right, I’m sure guys like the Kiwis on the rugby round up who follow and support Aus rugby, reviwifng every match, and who call him ‘vanilla’, as well as the fans in Aus who watch almost every match are in a worse place to judge.

              • February 2nd 2018 @ 11:22am
                Cynical Play said | February 2nd 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

                I see it’s all ‘fake news’ unless it supports your argument Fion. Old habits die hard, eh?

              • February 2nd 2018 @ 11:32am
                Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

                I’m sorry, CP, I could probably find a few flat earth theorists in Wales too, it doesn’t mean they should be taken seriously or thought of as representative of any serious thought. It’s also a bit rich given your attempts to argue about Foley’s goal kicking prowess despite Péter, Hoy, Soapit and myself showing and analysing Foley’s kicking on the South African goal kicking analysis site last year, and it disagreeing with what you said.

                As per usual, you’ve been unable to refute my point – in this instance the fact that the Roar crowd continually vote him as having either poor or average games, aside from the odd gem like Wales 2016 or England at the RWC.

                This is despite the fact the biggest group of Aus rugby fans are New South Welshman, the Victorian and ACT 10 last year was a Kiwi (ineligible) and the WA 10 was injured, thus, none of them had any reason to be biased against Foley. Clearly, the majority of Aus rugby fans think he is average or poor based on his results.

                Or, you know, you could have a read through the comments here.

              • Roar Rookie

                February 2nd 2018 @ 11:57am
                Paul D said | February 2nd 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

                Ok Fionn,

                Well I guess if you consider “Roar Crowd” votes as more reliable than international publications, then there isn’t much rational people can do about it.

                Feel free to link the article where Nick Bishop calls Foley “poor to serviceable” or even anything remotely close to that. Because I think that just you drawing your own conclusions.

              • February 2nd 2018 @ 12:26pm
                Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

                So you believe an international publication by a publication on the other side of the world whose only interaction with Aussie rugby is when Australia play Wales (who we always thrash) knows Australian rugby better than Australian rugby fans?

                Somehow I would trust the Welsh rugby fans to be better in touch with Welsh rugby than Decent and Robinson. Wouldn’t you?

                Please go and read his articles written in 2016 on why Quade should be handed the reigns, or his comments on his latest article in which he basically states Toomua (a guy who plays 12 in Europe) would be superior 10 to Foley due to Foley’s defence alone.

              • Roar Rookie

                February 2nd 2018 @ 1:23pm
                Paul D said | February 2nd 2018 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

                You are putting words in Nicks mouth.

                “Toomua could launch a serious challenge to Foley at 10 – now that would be interesting as he could easily defend his natural channel (he tackles like a centre anyway).”

                launch a serious challenge

                He did not say he is a superior selection, merely he would be a serious contender for the position.

                So it’s not possible for professional rugby writers in the NH to watch any SH rugby?

              • February 2nd 2018 @ 1:40pm
                Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

                Along with…

                ‘White, Toomua at 10 and Beale at 12 would cover the bases nicely G…’

                Along with the rest of his comments. Read between the lines. Saying he is possibly better than a guy who has played 12 for most of the period since the 2013 Spring Tour is clearly not lauding as a top class international 10.

                I never said it was impossible for NH writers to watch some SH rugby. But I think it is unlikely that a NH writer watches every single SH rugby match and is able to adequately rank very single SH rugby player and their ranking in world rugby. Do you honestly think that is a likely scenario? Honestly?

                Additionally, we have the fact that the Welsh publication’s position is in direct opposition to the position taken by the majority of the Australian public as per this publication’s voting on ratings after the match—despite, as I said, the fact that the biggest group of Aussie rugby supporters are New South Welshmen and Queensland is the only state where bias could conceivably play a large role.

              • February 2nd 2018 @ 2:54pm
                rebel said | February 2nd 2018 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

                Sorry Fionn, you are now resorting to “read between the lines” whilst dismissing international publications.
                Also isn’t Nick NH based.
                I’m not saying you are right or wrong, but you arguements have more holes in them than my training undies.

              • February 2nd 2018 @ 3:01pm
                Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

                Nick is being paid to watch and analyse SH rugby (by this site) it follows that he would have a considerably different level of knowledge about Australian rugby than the journalists of Wales online who are paid to write about Welsh rugby.

                The correct person to compare them with are Georgina Robinson, Wayne Smith and Tom Decent. If Wayne Smith claimed that Leigh Halfpenny was the best player in the world in the Australian would it matter one iota? No, it wouldn’t.

              • February 2nd 2018 @ 3:58pm
                rebel said | February 2nd 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

                Is he also paid for the information between the lines.

                I don’t really care about the arguements, just the selectiveness of the criteria. We can all create criteria to suit what we want. Just found the debating techniques ammusing, not necessarily the conclusions.
                Same with Nick in the Lions series, he was wrong to say the last penalty was incorrect due to the lines of the onfield advertising, but his end result was not wrong. Maybe he wanted us to read between the advertising lines.

            • February 2nd 2018 @ 1:59pm
              Perthstayer said | February 2nd 2018 @ 1:59pm | ! Report


              If you want hard stats to show he’s average then see his kick % stats (source ESPN).

              8th in current IRB Top 10 team is laughable. It’s busy in the 50’s but a match played tomorrow would see him weaker than his opposite man.

              Barrett 92
              Farrell 72 (Ford 82%)
              Russell 59
              Parra 57
              Volavola 57
              Sexton 56 (Jackson 62)
              Biggar 54
              FOLEY 53 (Cooper 60 🙂 )
              Jantjies 47
              Hernandez 41

            • February 3rd 2018 @ 12:59pm
              TC said | February 3rd 2018 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

              According to the super rugby points table.

        • February 2nd 2018 @ 3:07pm
          Taylorman said | February 2nd 2018 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

          Agree CP, I have huge doubts that CLL will come back onto the international arena and outplay Foley. Huuuge. I think he’ll struggle at test level given what he’s been through and he wasn’t exactly star material when he was there, an option at 10,12 at best around Beale, Cooper, Foley, Toomua etc a few years ago

        • Columnist

          February 2nd 2018 @ 6:56pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | February 2nd 2018 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

          Let me interrupt briefly just to clarify…

          I do not consider Bernard Foley “poor to serviceable”, I think he is a decent Test player. He has his strengths and weaknesses like every other guy playing at 10, but he has proven that he deserves to be first choice. After all, he does have 55 caps and they were not all won under Michael Cheika.

          Having said that, he is not so good that his position is unassailable. Far from it. I felt Quade Cooper was playing better than Foley when he was dropped a couple of years ago, and there are others who could be encouraged to challenge – and maybe surpass him like Toomua and Lance.

          CLL I think we have to very careful with. He is currently in remission from a major illness and there is no evidence as yet that he’ll be able to function for long periods at elite level with the physicality of the game as it is now. He’s played well for Ulster but it’s only a beginning.

          And it is as well to remember that (to the best of my knowledge) he’s been picked for Australia only at 12. Even the Brumbies preferred Toomua at 10.

          • February 3rd 2018 @ 2:40am
            Crash Ball2 said | February 3rd 2018 @ 2:40am | ! Report

            ”He does have 55 caps and they were not all won under Michael Cheika.”

            The overwhelming majority are. And the rest were predominantly injury related.

          • February 3rd 2018 @ 7:17am
            Taylorman said | February 3rd 2018 @ 7:17am | ! Report

            Yep exactly how I see it Nick. These are not black or white scenarios.

          • February 3rd 2018 @ 11:07am
            Fionn said | February 3rd 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

            Is ‘decent’ not akin to serviceable? Having just googled the dictionary definition of serviceable we get ‘fulfilling its function adequately; usable.’ And decent is ‘of an acceptable standard; satisfactory’. They seem to be fairly synonymous to me.

            No, Larkham eventually switched Toomua to 12 and Lealiifano to 10 as Link asked him to do in 2013 (Larkham may have switched them in 2015, but definitely by 2016).

            • February 3rd 2018 @ 4:37pm
              Mmmmm..k said | February 3rd 2018 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

              You said “poor to serviceable”.
              Not “serviceable”.
              In other words in your opinion he’s usually less than serviceable.

              I won’t put words in anyone’s mouth, I will just say that I think Barrett, Cruden, Farrell, Ford, Sexton, Russell, Biggar, Sapoaga, Mounga and a few others are better than Foley on Ave.

              He’s not one of the best 10s in world rugby on Ave but he can play very well and has been Australia’s best player in many tests.

            • Columnist

              February 3rd 2018 @ 7:05pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | February 3rd 2018 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

              Fionn, I think it is pretty obvious that your attitude to Foley is far more negative than mine, which is why I don’t include the ‘poor’ and you do.

              Bob Dwyer once said you only need five world-class players in a starting fifteen in order to be successful. Not everyone has to be a world-beater, so decent and serviceable are legitimate parts of a successful side.

              They are not terms used to criticize a player’s level of performance.

              • February 3rd 2018 @ 7:15pm
                Fionn said | February 3rd 2018 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

                Nick, I can’t disagree with any of that. I obviously tend towards the lower level of the spectrum and you’d obviously say decent (or, in my words, serviceable—although I think they’re fairly synonymous with one another).

                There aren’t may that take the view he is a world beater and amongst the best in the world like this article tends to claim.

                I beg your pardon if you felt like I was misrepresenting you, but I had thought the way I phrased my initial comment indicated that most analysts placed him somewhere along that spectrum.

              • February 3rd 2018 @ 9:14pm
                Dan in Devon said | February 3rd 2018 @ 9:14pm | ! Report

                During the RWC 2015 Foley showed glimpses of becoming a match winner but since then he has regressed. I was told he suffered concussion issues after the RWC – this may explain in part his decline. Against England he has become a liability. The real failure lies with Cheika who has decided that Foley is an 80 minute player regardless of circumstances. Fair enough he has decided Cooper is rendundant but Cheika’s failure to develop viable alternatives is really the story here.

              • February 5th 2018 @ 11:35am
                MARTO said | February 5th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

                Nicholas if you think Foley is decent you must still be dining off that 2015 performance against England .. The ” ICEMAN ” has been atrocious for 2 years and you call him decent… Speaking of dining and decency… English food is decent Nicholas, but it doesn’t mean it`s any good…


          • Roar Rookie

            February 4th 2018 @ 10:29am
            Paul D said | February 4th 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

            Thanks Nick. Exactly my interpretation of your thoughts, and I agree wholeheartedly.

            Whether the incumbent is the worlds best or not, it is always important to have viable backups applying pressure and in case of injury.

            Foley’s no superstar, but neither are any of the other options. The last couple of years have been a real low point in the stock of 10’s in Australia with the need of imports. The responsibility for the lack of quality play makers falls at more feet than just Cheika’s.

      • February 2nd 2018 @ 8:16am
        Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 8:16am | ! Report

        More to the point – sturdy defence? You’re kidding, right? Whether he’s better than Quade or not is a superfluous point, they’re both extremely weak defenders and Bernard needs to be hidden in defence.

        Stood out in last year’s Bledisloe win?

        Fox sports gave Foley a 6, the second lowest in the starting 15.

        The notoriously pro-NSW and pro-Foley GAGR gave Foley a 4, the lowest in the starting 15

        The Roar gave Foley 4.8, the lowest in the starting 15.

        The problem with articles like this isn’t only that they haven’t been fact checked, but that they continue the history and legacy of parochialism, favouritism and bias when it comes to Wallaby selection.

        The Wallabies will never get back to the upper echelons of the game until we—and the coaches and selectors—can take a step back and analyse things objectively, rather than let our biases and preconceived notions determine what we think.

        It is possible that Foley will massively improve this year, be capable of defending in line, improve his goal kicking, his long passing and especially his tactical kicking, that he will outplay Christian and Lance and deserve to start at 10.

        However, based on his performances over 2016 and 2017 and Christian’s performances in 2016 and just over in Ireland, and Lance’s performance in Worcester one has to assume that Christian will probably be the best 10 in Australia and deserve to start in that position for the Wallabies.

        • February 2nd 2018 @ 11:41am
          HKRed said | February 2nd 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          What she said.
          Although I do agree with Will on one point (wish I didn’t) in that, Foley will comfortably get picked to start the first test and will likely remain the starting 10 for the rest of the year. Why would Cheika change such a good thing????? 😉

        • Roar Guru

          February 2nd 2018 @ 1:48pm
          Mango Jack said | February 2nd 2018 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

          “needs to be hidden” or “is hidden”?

          We all know it is Cheika’s game plan is for Foley to move outside in defence, as he does with KB, but is it necessary? From memory, that was Nick Bishop’s point. He argued that it was disruptive to the team to move players out of position in defence, and that he didn’t believe Cheika needed to do this, citing Foley’s and Beale’s defence vs SBW as an example of how they can actually tackle.

          IMO, I think Foley’s defence improved a lot last year. His technique was better, by aiming lower, rather than trying to grab at, or bear hug his opponent.

          Good article, though and no one should be in the position where they are not challenged.

          • Roar Guru

            February 2nd 2018 @ 1:50pm
            Train Without A Station said | February 2nd 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

            But what that ignored was that they rarely did actually make 1 on 1 tackles on SBW. They were relying on others to support, meaning others weren’t fixed on their man.

            It was a good one off strategy, but doing so over time will leave other holes exploited.

          • February 2nd 2018 @ 1:53pm
            Fionn said | February 2nd 2018 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

            I find it quite stunning that we keep going back to one match where the team had been criticised in the media to the extent that they put on a truly great performance that they were never able to replicate again (Nick also wrote an article about how that match would be, for want of a better term, a dead cat bounce) as an example of how players can defend.

            Perhaps Beale and Foley can defend like that on occasion. The problem is that they didn’t either before that or since.

          • Roar Guru

            February 2nd 2018 @ 5:27pm
            ThugbyFan said | February 2nd 2018 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

            right on Mango. What was also interesting was Nick Bishop’s analysis of the England flogging of the WB last year. In that article, and with photos to boot, he showed how the English aimed their up-n-unders at B.Foley knowing he would be “hiding” in the 2nd fb role and his shortness and weak strength in grabbing the ball and ruckwork would hugely advantage the England chasers. If the kick had to be long to him, they easily beat him in any kicking duel, E.Daly vs Foley’s popgun kicks basically gained them 30-40 m every time. If the kick was short enough for chasers to compete, poor Foley had virtually no chance against the taller better jumping England wingers and centres. In short a disaster waiting to happen!

            So part of the England pregame plan feasted on Foley’s weaknesses and M.Cheika’s game plan of hiding him in the back. The shuffling and musical chairs has been exposed time after time in 2016 and 2017 as confusing the players and wearing them out (England blow-out in last 8 minutes), and these clowns still have the WB doing it. For mine, if you want to play #10, then you defend at #10 or go play suburban 2nd grade. B.Foley is a fairly decent tackler, not great at front-on but quite good from the side. As Will says Foley has a good running game and game management from flustered to very good but very poor kicking from the hand. I don’t know how much he can improve but if he plays he must defend at #10 as every other team will see what England did to him.

            Even worse in the EOYT was the stupidity of MC to play K.Beale, the king of dropsies, at fullback when he had a pretty serviceable fb, who can catch the bleedin ball, in R.Hodge. Gawd shoot me! LoL

    • February 2nd 2018 @ 7:54am
      Adsa said | February 2nd 2018 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      You and I see a different type of Foley on the field Will, you made references to a high roller with a bag of tricks, I see a very limited player who has shown that he cannot adapt to change or think on the run. Since the World Cup he has been poor in the Gold jersey. But yes he is Clowns boy and will be picked for all the Tests this year regardless of form. More than likely Foley will steer us to 3 losses against Ireland this year to add to his five straight against England.

    • Roar Rookie

      February 2nd 2018 @ 7:56am
      rebel said | February 2nd 2018 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      Haven’t had a Foley Cooper article for a while. Might be a few new arguements if we are lucky.
      Here’s hoping all 5, sorry 4 sides progress this year and the Wallabies build towards japan.

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