Rugby Union

Super Rugby: Bernard Foley confident shoulder will hold up against Queensland Reds

Waratahs five-eighth Bernard Foley has had enough of watching rugby from the couch and is raring to go against Queensland, but admits there is still an iota of doubt as to whether his troublesome shoulder will hold up.

The Wallabies No.10 has missed all three of the Waratahs games this season after suffering a shoulder injury in the final pre-season match against the Highlanders. After what he described as a "mini pre-season" he is eager to get back into the action at Suncorp Stadium.

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Foley has been training with the main squad for a number of weeks, but was not given the all-clear last week against the Highlanders because his shoulder was unable to withstand full contact. He was "pretty confident" his shoulder would hold up this weekend. 

"There always is a little bit of doubt if you go back too early or not, but I think it's just something we'll have to handle and manage," Foley said. "I've been pretty comfortable doing the training sessions so I suppose we won't know until I play the game." 

Comeback: Bernard Foley trains with the Waratahs ahead of Sunday's match against the Reds.
Comeback: Bernard Foley trains with the Waratahs ahead of Sunday's match against the Reds. Photo: Brendon Thorne

Foley's roommate Nick Phipps has spoken about how his playmaker-in-crime has been itching to return to a Waratahs side that have shown glimpses of their best form, but lack polish. 

"It's been frustrating watching on the sidelines," Foley said. "  I'm hoping to get back in the side and hopefully contribute because there's no lack of effort amongst this team and everyone's worked really hard."

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When Foley touched down in Sydney from playing rugby in Japan after last year's World Cup, Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson made it clear he would have to sit down with Foley and work out a way to prevent him from burning out. Some people have described Foley's injury a blessing in disguise and he agrees to a certain extent, saying he is comfortable knowing he has been able to spend time getting his body in shape. 

"The strength and conditioning team have put me through my paces and in that regard I've had that time to sort of settle in and learn the way Daryl wants to play and the new coaching staff want to play," Foley said. "Having these first four weeks and being able to focus on my body  ... rather than the week-to-week match play, has allowed me to now fully immerse myself in the rest of the season."    

The scrum and set piece have dominated discussion at Waratahs training for the better part of the year after a below-par showing against the Reds in those areas, but members of the squad are still trotting out the team line of playing an expansive brand of rugby. Foley, however, has pondered whether  it was time to put the running, end-to-end style of rugby the Waratahs implemented during the Michael Cheika era in their back pocket.  

Instead, making decisions as the game progresses and taking smarter options rather than the most exciting ones, could be more beneficial, according to Foley.  

"We want to play an attacking style of rugby and play ball-in-hand footy, but therefore we can't be doing it to our detriment," Foley said.

 "We can't be doing it too much that it's going to hurt us and tire us out because sometimes it's a bit like a boxer; you throw too many punches, you knock yourself out. It's, I suppose, game management and adapting within games and be able to adapt on the run." 

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