"I've made it known I want to play in the front line" ... Bernard Foley. Photo: Brendan Esposito
RISING Waratahs back Bernard Foley has put Test-capped teammate Berrick Barnes on notice with a declaration he wants to make the No.10 jersey his own next year.
Foley played at five-eighth as a junior but was used by former coach Michael Foley at fullback for most of last season after joining the Waratahs, with Barnes at No. 10 or inside-centre.
Foley intended transitioning his new recruit to five-eighth as he gained experience and used him there towards the end of the season, with Barnes outside and Adam Ashley-Cooper at fullback.
Bernard Foley said yesterday he enjoyed playing both positions but wanted to return to the position in which he was most comfortable.
"I've made it known I want to play in the front line but it comes back to personnel we have available and the structure he wants to play," he said. "If I don't fit that, I'm sure that he'll have no dramas in finding someone else or filling that role. So again it's just coming back to who's around and what style he wants to play."
New coach Michael Cheika has made it clear positions are there for the taking next season, and reiterated that yesterday in reference to the No. 10 jersey.
"If a player thinks the best opportunity for him is in a certain position or if he enjoys playing a certain position the most, then that's where he's going to get the chance to play," Cheika said, adding that he would probably play Foley at both fullback and five-eighth.
"I come from a school where it was almost the education for a 10 to play out the back first, at my club [Randwick] here in Australia there were a lot of 10s who played 15 before that. Only probably guys like [Wallabies legend] Mark Ella could slot straight in there from day one. I will say that the touches that Bernard had at the end of last year playing as a 10 were pretty good really."
Foley and Barnes will be competing with former Reds squad member Sam Lane, who is recovering from a knee injury.
Former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones last month said he believed Barnes should stay at five-eighth and Foley at fullback. Jones described Foley as an "instinctive" player, calling him an "out-and-out 15".
Foley said he appreciated the experience he gained at fullback this season and took Jones's comments as a compliment.
"It opened my eyes to a number of different aspects and hopefully improved me as a footballer, having that versatility and seeing the game from a different aspect or a different view," he said.
"I really enjoyed playing at 15 and if I have to play there again it's not a bad thing at all . . . but being an 'out and out 15' – I haven't played too much there before and there's some really good 15s running around at the moment so, if I was anywhere in that category, I'd be pretty pleased."