Recalled Wallabies playmaker Bernard Foley says he isn’t sure why Australia failed to develop a playmaking squad between the last two Rugby World Cups, but is happy to help bring in a cohort of talented emerging fly-halfs while pushing for a third. His own World Cup appearance.
Foley joined the Wallabies camp on the Gold Coast on Sunday, where Australia resumed preparations for their Round 3 rugby union championship against the Springboks, having had several days to lick his wounds following the 48-17 thrashing by the Pumas .
Rennie named a 35-man squad last Thursday for back-to-back Tests against the world champions, the biggest surprise being the omission of James O’Connor after he started at fly-half in San Juan just five days earlier. But O’Connor’s demotion has created the space for Foley’s return, an opportunity the 71-Test playmaker is determined to cherish after an unceremonious exit in Japan three years ago.
“I guess I always hoped and thought about it, but I never thought the opportunity would present itself, especially going away, going abroad and knowing that eligibility laws can change. “, Foley told reporters on Monday.
“I kind of had to settle for not having the opportunity when I left in 2019, so to now have the opportunity to be back here in the team and to be able to wear the colours, yes enough grateful and I’m delighted to have this second opportunity.”
Foley’s recall has sparked heated debate in Australian rugby circles, with not everyone happy the Wallabies have turned to a 32-year-old, and others wondering what happened to a group of playmakers who should have been brought in between the 2015 and 2019 World Cups.
Instead, Australia now has a 10-year age gap between 22-year-old Noah Lolesio, Foley and O’Connor at 32 and the injured Quade Cooper at 33.
Names like Jack Debreczeni mac mason  and Jack McIntyre  have been rocked, while the loss of the third tier national rugby championship, fractured junior lane programs and of course the global player market have been rocked as reasons why this group in the middle has perhaps not be not continued.
Rennie sought to prevent history from repeating itself after adding 23-year-old Waratahs center Ben Donaldson to the Wallabies squad on a training basis only, possibly with a view to getting him started more later in the year on the spring tour.
Foley’s 71 experience tests will certainly be a bonus for Lolesio, who is set to start at the Adelaide Ring on Saturday, while the veteran No.10 says he is eager to offer as much information as possible on the playmakers even though he couldn’t explain what had happened to the Aussie squad between him and his new teammates.
“I guess there’s a little void of players in that middle section,” Foley said. “I’m not really sure and it’s probably not for me to comment on, but how we can develop these youngsters now is really exciting.
“I did a few sessions with Ben Donaldson and Tane Edmed [at the Waratahs], now here with Noah, I’m really excited because I see these guys as immensely talented. They have the composure, they have the mentality and probably the rugby IQ to lead teams, they just need that experience and that time in the saddle to really understand their craft, learn, master their craft and be able to lead teams. around.”
After meeting Lolesio for the first time on Sunday, Foley said he didn’t think the youngster’s confidence had been shaken by his demotion for the San Juan loss, or the other instances where he had been handed the Wallabies-only reins. for them to be drawn. away from him again.
“It’s hard being young and being in those environments,” Foley said. “But I’m really impressed to have arrived yesterday, to meet him, how calm and confident he is. I don’t think he was knocked down or anything like that. I think it’s a guy who can come in and make the decisions and I’m really excited to look forward to working with him and seeing how he sees the game and how he’s going to race.
Foley confirmed Rennie first sounded him out about a return to Test rugby after the French series last year, but for various reasons he did not see fit to join the team at this stage .
It could have been a decision that brought down the curtain on his Wallabies career once and for all, but Cooper’s season-ending injury and Cooper and O’Connor’s own struggles with form and injury opened the door. door to the Sydneysider to pursue a third World Cup appearance.
A lack of recent playing time – Foley sought an opportunity with the University of Sydney but the timing wasn’t right – means he’s unlikely to play against the Springboks, at least in Adelaide, but he could well enter the calculation against the All Blacks; the spring tour could, however, pose similar problems for him as the players under contract with Japan last year.
Still, Foley admits the chance to make amends for the disappointing 2019 tournament is a motivating factor in channeling his efforts to make the Wallabies squad for France next year.
“His [World Cup] definitely on the radar. Like I said before, there’s a limited time but it’s on the radar,” Foley said. But I’m literally just here, day one trying to connect with the guys, figuring out how they want to play.
“There’s a lot of football, a lot of time until then, I know it’s the cliché, but I literally take it day by day, just being among the squad.”