Waratahs coach puts rocket under Foley

The NSW Waratahs' usually mild-mannered coach Daryl Gibson has put a rocket under Bernard Foley ahead of a must-win Super Rugby clash in Melbourne.

bernard foley of the wallabies kicks at goal during the international test match between the australian wallabies and italy at suncorp stadium in brisbane australia
BERNARD FOLEY of the Wallabies kicks at goal during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and Italy at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson is demanding Wallabies playmaker Bernard Foley lift his game when he goes head to head with Quade Cooper in Friday night's high-stakes Super Rugby derby in Melbourne.

As well as the Waratahs' finals hopes hanging by a thread, Wallabies spots in an all-important World Cup year will be on the line at AAMI Park.

Foley's match-up with Cooper is among several individual duels that Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and fellow selectors Michael O'Connor and Scott Johnson will be keeping a keen eye on.

But beating the Rebels is Gibson's chief concern and, to do that, the Waratahs need Foley to fire.

Australia's incumbent No.10 outpointed Cooper in an equally anticipated showdown last month, when Foley bagged all 16 second-half points to spark a Waratahs comeback win from 20-7 down at the break.

The highlight of Foley's dazzling display was his outleaping of Cooper to secure the ball before racing 60 metres to score a decisive try that turned the match.

Foley, though, was anything but dazzling in last Saturday's loss to the Jaguares, prompting the usually mild-mannered Gibson to put a rocket under his playmaker ahead of the Waratahs' last throw of the dice.

"We're pretty disappointed with how Bernard performed at the weekend. IIt was below where he should be. He knows that," Gibson said.

"So I imagine that will stir him into action in this game and he'll want to make sure he's performing to the ability that we know of him.

"If that means further cementing his place in the Wallaby side, that's good enough."

Pressed on what specifically he was disappointed about in Foley's game, Gibson said: "Just the number of errors that came out of him".

"It's very unusual. He's usually very consistent.

"For just various reasons, he just made some decisions that probably weren't on. Took some options with his skill set and his execution, and he's very aware of that.

"He's probably more filthy on himself than me getting on his back about that so I fully expect him to have a big game on the weekend."


AAP