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Sevens star Foley to fill fullback role for Tahs


Greg Growden

"Ashley-Cooper is accustomed to being moved around the back line, flitting between the centres, wing and fullback for the Brumbies and Wallabies."

"Ashley-Cooper is accustomed to being moved around the back line, flitting between the centres, wing and fullback for the Brumbies and Wallabies." Photo: Getty Images

Australian Sevens captain Bernard Foley has been named as the Waratahs fullback against the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday night, with Adam Ashley-Cooper discovering he will have another Super Rugby season being shuffled around the back line.

During the team's final full training session before heading to Melbourne tomorrow, Foley, who is yet to start for the Waratahs, spent the bulk of the session at fullback, while Ashley-Cooper - who played at No.15 against the Reds last weekend - was on the wing.

Ashley-Cooper is accustomed to being moved around the back line, flitting between the centres, wing and fullback for the Brumbies and Wallabies, but it was assumed he would hold on to the No.15 jersey for longer than just one round after moving from Canberra in the off-season.

"The medical staff just want it to be 100 per cent before I start playing again" ... Berrick Barnes

"The medical staff just want it to be 100 per cent before I start playing again" ... Berrick Barnes Photo: Getty Images

However, Foley's excellent trial form and outstanding credentials - he has often been praised for his attacking impact and use of space - have made it difficult for the Waratahs selectors to ignore him, especially as they know they require gain-line breakers.

The 22-year-old Sydney University utility back, who has played twice off the bench for the Waratahs, was a silver medallist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games with the Australian Sevens team and took over the captaincy during the 2010-11 IRB series.

Considering how long Foley trained at fullback yesterday, the Waratahs selectors as expected announced him as the only starting XV change this morning, with Ashley-Cooper set to move into Brackin Karauria-Henry's wing spot.

There would have been more changes, but after anticipating that Berrick Barnes would return to the line-up the Waratahs plans had to be altered yesterday when it was decided it would be smarter for him to have one more week on the sideline to overcome his groin complaint.

''It's just frustrating because I didn't think my leg would be an issue this week,'' Barnes said. ''So it's another week off, and hopefully I will be back against the Highlanders in Dunedin next weekend. The medical staff just want it to be 100 per cent before I start playing again.''

Barnes was hoping to tussle with the Rebels' new recruit James O'Connor, but instead that will be the responsibility of Daniel Halangahu, Tom Carter and Rob Horne.

''James is a hard bloke to contain and so it's important that when defending you don't come one out against him,'' Barnes said.

''You have to eliminate his ability to be able to use footwork on people and get offloads, which he craves. It is important for us to nullify them up front, which hopefully will limit the amount of opportunities he gets to use his feet.''

Waratahs coach Michael Foley said that while O'Connor was a major threat, especially in tandem with five-eighth Danny Cipriani, it was dangerous if they just concentrated on the Rebels headline stars.

''You can easily focus too much on them and take your eye off guys like Cooper Vuna and Mitch Inman, who are big power runners,'' he said.

''They will use their powerful runners to get over the gain line and that's when space is provided for the guys who can create the one-on-one situations, or overlaps to exploit.

''Initially it revolves around us not giving them that gain line and after that … putting a lot of pressure on guys, as we did with Digby Ioane. It's crucial we do the same again.''

Waratahs team: Bernard Foley; Tom Kingston, Rob Horne, Tom Carter, Adam Ashley-Cooper; Daniel Halangahu (capt), Sarel Pretorius; Wycliff Palu, Chris Alcock, Dave Dennis; Kane Douglas, Dean Mumm; Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Damien Fitzpatrick, Paddy Ryan, Lopeti Timani, Jono Jenkins, Brendan McKibbin, Brackin Karauria-Henry, Nathan Trist.

9 comments so far

  • Bernie Foley and Kingston should have a good combination as they went to school together.

    Nth Sydney
    Date and time
    February 29, 2012, 9:39AM
    • What did the wingers do wrong? Tom "1 Dimension" Carter needs to take some time and ask if he has learnt anything. He had a shouse game and cant display maturity on the field that a player of his seniority should be showing. Rob Horne to IC Ashly Cooper to OC and Foley to FB.

      Old man woott
      Date and time
      February 29, 2012, 9:47AM
      • Here we go, into another rugby season.
        AAC showed at the RWC just how valuable he can be with his strong, straight running. I do hope Foley (coach, not player) manages him a lot better than they did at the Bumblies so that we continue to get the best from him. A straight switch of Foley for K-H seems to make perfect sense. Why muck around a proven test player?

        Date and time
        February 29, 2012, 9:49AM
        • How long till Vickerman is fit and Timani is back from Japan?

          How long do we have to keep Dean Mumm in the side? He was abominable against the Reds - he gets worse every season.

          Good call by the Tahs on Foley. I think that's the best backline they can put on the park till Barnes and Mitchell return, and then you can move Horne in one and play AAC at 13.

          Karma Police
          Date and time
          February 29, 2012, 9:50AM
          • Our Tah's 2012 jersey appears to be missing a few gold stripes...

            Date and time
            February 29, 2012, 9:58AM
            • Agree with suggestion of Rob Horne switching to Inside Centre - it seemed to work at the WC and surely will be a smart attacking option in the future for the Wallabies if the Tahs give him some time there. AAC is one of my first picked in any rugby team and his ability to get outside his man and create opportunities is brilliant - get him in the 13 jersey

              Date and time
              February 29, 2012, 10:21AM
              • Totally agree with Old man woott and karma police...I can't for the life of me understand the logic of sticking with Mumm and Carter? They reliably prove week in - week out, season after season they are not up to this standard...

                Date and time
                February 29, 2012, 11:41AM
                • Good Team. carter in my eyes is the best centre in Australia and I'm a bit surprised he was over looked for the Waratahs Captaincy. I like the look of this Foley bloke too.

                  Date and time
                  February 29, 2012, 12:54PM
                  • John - 'the best centre in Australia' ..... Carter is possibly the most over rated player in Australia !
                    Has no 'off the mark' speed
                    Only can pass on one side
                    Has no step
                    and hasnt off loaded in 7 years
                    added to the abover he now seems to have premature celebtation syndrome on top.
                    open the other eye......... you from Uni ?

                    Date and time
                    February 29, 2012, 1:41PM

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