Veteran playmaker Bernard Foley says playing in a third World Cup is “on the radar” after returning to the Wallabies.
Three years after his last Test appearance, the 33-year-old was recently included in coach Dave Rennie’s 35-man squad for the crucial Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks.
Foley has been linked with a return to Japan’s Quade Cooper due to injury in the final in Argentina this month.
His call-up marks the second time in as many years that Rennie has stressed the need to play for an experienced overseas player.
“I think there’s a bit of a gap of players in that middle part[of their careers],” Foley said of the lack of a standout player between the ages of 24 and 31.
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Rennie has brought in rising Waratahs five-eighth Ben Donaldson, hoping to fast-track his readiness for international football.
But now Rennie may turn to 22-year-old Noah Lolesio.
If Lolesio starts as expected against Adelaide on Saturday, he will continue the Brumbies’ crazy journey on the international stage. In the year
Privately, former Wallabies are concerned about his handling. Several former players believe his confidence may have been dented by the treatment.
He performed faithfully in three Tests against England last month, including leading the Colts to a characterful victory in Perth.
Remarkably, Mendoza’s exclusion for the second Test came despite Cooper’s absence. James O’Connor was preferred, while special center Ire Simon, who will leave to continue his career in France at the conclusion of the trial, was selected ahead of Lolesio.
Despite the setbacks, Foley said he was impressed with Lolecio’s demeanor after meeting him on Sunday.
“Being young and being in these environments is tough,” Foley said. “But walking in, meeting him, and I was really impressed with how accomplished and confident he was. I don’t think he was beaten or anything like that.
“I think he’s a guy who can come in and call the shots, and I’m excited and just looking forward to working with him and seeing how he sees the game and how he runs it.”
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Foley is coming back from a series of setbacks.
In the year After leading the Welshmen to the World Cup final in 2015, the campaign has not gone to plan four years on and much of the blame for their quarter-final run has been laid at his feet.
“I think I’ve had time to think about it,” he said. “I think we’re probably at the point where we’re most worried (in 2019). We were trying to force it to happen, we were working really hard to change the results and go in there and make it an unbelievable race.
“The goal was right, the goal was in place, but the performance and how we did it and how we didn’t kill ourselves and break ourselves in those few years and that 2019 World Cup.”
But as Cooper has shown over the past 12 months, it’s a time away from the rigors and pressures of international rugby – particularly the Wallabies, where there are things beyond the control of the current squad, such as management, grassroots and streets. Prone failures – can be useful for players who are mentally and physically burned out.
Foley says time away from Australian rugby has ignited the fire within him to make a comeback, after turning down the chance to return to the Whalers a year ago, which paved the way for Cooper’s comeback.
“Whether it’s an ego thing or something that drives me … I think about when I was here and how I would have done things differently and learned and grown, to reflect on coming back. Add to the team,” he said. “The time is now.”
They thought the days of the Walias were over, he added.
“I’ve always hoped and thought about it, but I never thought the opportunity would come back, especially knowing that you can leave, go overseas and the eligibility rules have the ability to change,” Foley said.
In the year When I left in 2019, I had to be content with not getting the chance, so now to get the chance to come back to the team and wear the colors… I’m grateful and happy to have that second chance.
The 71-year-old star is under no illusions about his sudden memory. But whether his inclusion in the squad, especially ahead of the reduced O’Connor, would make sense back on the bench, especially as his availability for the five-Test spring tour remains unclear.
As for the World Cup, with just 14 Tests remaining, Foley has no bones about appearing at the tournament in France.
“It’s definitely on the radar,” he said.
“As I said before, there is some time but it is on the radar.
“But I’m trying to connect directly with the people on the first day [and] Understand how you want to play.
“There’s a lot of leg, a lot of time between now and then. I know it’s just a cliché, but I’m taking it every day just to be literally in and out of the group.