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All Blacks legend Andrew Mehrtens sees Bernard Foley as Wallabies No.10

Vote of confidence: Bernard Foley scores a try for the Waratahs against the Hurricanes on Saturday night.

Vote of confidence: Bernard Foley scores a try for the Waratahs against the Hurricanes on Saturday night. Photo: Getty Images

All Blacks great Andrew Mehrtens says Waratahs five-eighth Bernard Foley must be considered for the Wallabies No.10 jersey this year. 

While the debate over the pivotal position has revolved around the merits and pitfalls of Quade Cooper versus Matt Toomua, Mehrtens said Australia coach Ewen McKenzie would ignore Foley at his peril in the lead up to next year's World Cup. 

"I really like Foley. Before I ever met him I watched him on [the Wallabies end of year tour] last year and I loved when he came on at fullback against Wales," Mehrtens said. 

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"He just looked full of energy, full of running, and he had a go in a good way, not just for the sake of it. You know he is dangerous, he brings the ball up to the line and if he senses an opportunity he has a crack, but not in a greedy way."

The 77-Test All Black acknowledged Toomua was making a powerful case for selection as five-eighth for Australian conference leaders the Brumbies but questioned whether the Wallabies could sustain another World Cup campaign with Cooper at No.10.

"I just wonder with Cooper that if he doesn't have dominance in front of him, he isn't the same player," Mehrtens said. "No fly half is really, if they don't have dominance in front, but I think he relies on that front-foot ball a lot more and I wonder whether the Wallabies will get that much against the All Blacks, for example. 

"It's a combination thing too and I don't know if Quade's style suits the midfield Australia is likely to put out there. In fact, I don't know what midfield it does suit at the moment. Under pressure, he runs up his own tail a bit too much.

"There is no doubting he has a lot of skill and a lot of talent, I just think there are guys operating a little more cleanly at the moment in that No.10 role at the moment." 

After a breakout season in the Waratahs No.10 jersey last year, 2014 has been a slow burn for Foley, a former Australian sevens player of the year who made his Wallabies debut with a try against Argentina less than 12 months ago. 

Swamped by big name back-line players Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper, Foley has toiled away at five-eighth with a brief to straighten the Waratahs' attack and work on his leadership. 

It hasn't always come off as planned. The bonus-point try bonanzas dried up in South Africa and Foley, Beale and halfback Nick Phipps went on a hunt for answers.

On Saturday night, after the Waratahs' five-try 39-30 lesson to the Hurricanes, NSW coach Michael Cheika hailed their contributions as season-best performances. 

"[Foley and Phipps] are still very young [in age] but also maybe they haven't been handed the idea that they are looking after everyone else as well," Cheika said. 

"Both of the lads took a big step up in maturity in not just looking after their own game but looking after the other lads as well in the way they set up the team.

"I thought Beale alongside, that was outstanding. When we went [24-7] down, he and Foley stood up and tried to control the game to put us back in the picture and that was very good."

Mehrtens, who works with Foley as the side's part-time kicking consultant, said the 24-year-old's form warranted a Test call-up.

"As a No.10 he has the skills, he has a lot of heart, he tackles well and attacks well and I think the goal kicking has been bloody good this year as well," he said. 

"Kicking and goal kicking has never been something he's had to rely on so much because he's so talented, but the more kicking he does – whether it's out of hand or goal kicking – the more consistent he is getting. 

‘‘Where you wouldn't normally have called him a natural goal kicker a year or two ago,  I think he's a lot more so now."

8 comments so far

  • I'm sorry but Foley is too hot and cold and like Quade Cooper, disappears if the Waratahs forwards are not providing good momentum. Toomua's all-round game is solid. He should be there at 10 coke June

    Date and time
    May 05, 2014, 7:48AM
    • Whilst I agree with Mehrtens view on Cooper, I think Toomua is the better option for Wallabies flyhalf. Foley would be a very good bench player to cover fullback and flyhalf. I'd even consider getting him up to speed as scrum half back-up, eliminating the need for a specialist scrum half bench position.

      Date and time
      May 05, 2014, 9:04AM
      • Hey Georgina (or sub-editor etc.) No criticism of Foley, he is playing well, but what impact does the headline "Bernard Foley's employee sees Bernard Foley as Wallabies No.10" have? Yeh, I thought so.

        Sam Scotts
        Date and time
        May 05, 2014, 9:24AM
        • Whilst I greatly admire Mehrts and respect his opinion, and while he may well be right regarding Foley. What is this Aussie obsession with what other countries think?

          How many times do you see this kind of thing? "2nd rate US personality mentions Australia in passing!" "English Royal family member knows where Australia is!" "South African / New Zealand rugby star / exstar says something positive about Aussie rugby!"

          I suppose it is mainly a media thing, but it's rather peculiar, I can't imagine the NZ or SA media getting too carried away with a suggestion by Burkey or Larkham (unless they'd said something everyone disagrees with and it was reported for the sake of controversy).

          anyway, end ramble, back to rugby

          Perth via Rakaia
          Date and time
          May 05, 2014, 10:18AM
          • @ piru

            Nahhh.... except for some goose called Campo. It's a funny old world, eh ?

            inner west sydney
            Date and time
            May 05, 2014, 1:46PM
        • Ho hum, another washed up average kiwi trying to cause confusion and undermine Australian rugby. Some things never change. Do any Australians in Australian rugby have any opinions Georgina ?

          Date and time
          May 05, 2014, 10:30AM
          • Johnny-Boy. If all it takes to undermine Australian Rugby is to wheel out the opinion of a past All Black great, then you've got bigger problems my friend.

            I find it funny that you haven't been bleating about the Reds' weekend result either. I suspect in your mind, someone poisoned the Reds' gatorade, or that someone put some enchancements in Nonu's gatorade. Either way, I doubt we'll be seeing many Reds in the Wallaby team, and for good reason too.

            Date and time
            May 05, 2014, 2:00PM
        • Disagree. Cooper is the No 1 No.10 in Australasia.....heck, lets be fair here........the Southern Hemisphere. Obviously Mehrtens is not in on the plan by Cooper to get rid of Graham by "dogging" it as he did to Deans. Cooper is playing so badly that this theory must now have "legs". How else do you explain his woeful play? Mehrtens like Cooper is a kiwi spy and here only to create havoc on any S15 team and the great Wallabies.
          The tahtahs gave the Canes ................"a lesson" are not serious! Great game, open, fast, and highly entertaining. Walsh had some weird moments and robbed canes of a bonus point .................anyway neither team is going to raise trophy this a canes supporter I am now only interested where we finish on table
          After reds were crushed two weeks in a row, Brumbies smashed (GR .............those were lessons..............not a 9 point difference! in a 69p oint game!!)......I think messiah has a few selection issues

          headed off
          Bucaramanga, Colombia
          Date and time
          May 05, 2014, 10:59AM

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