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Sevens star Foley to fill fullback role for Tahs

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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.

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.