Bernard Foley ready for recall, selection, team, Dave Rennie
Bernard Foley – the 71 Test playmaker – is set to be called up to the Wallabies squad, when Dave Rennie announces his squad for the Rugby Championship.
Foley was at Rugby Australia on Wednesday and it is understood he underwent medical tests to help give selectors an indication of his physical condition.
Rennie is believed to be assessing his squad setup, with a figure as low as 36 being considered.
The large size is likely due to a number of players, including Kurtley Beale, Andrew Kellaway and Angus Bell, returning from injury.
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If Foley was included, it would cap a remarkable comeback for the 33-year-old-to-be, who had previously turned down an invitation to join the team ahead of last year’s Rugby Championship.
The decision paved the way for Quade Cooper to return to the team last season, where he then led the Wallabies to five straight wins after a four-year Test hiatus.
But Cooper’s season-ending knee injury against Los Pumas in this year’s TRC opener in Argentina saw Rennie reach out to Foley once again, and this time the Japan-based playmaker is eager to join the team.
The Foley who left Australian rugby after the 2019 World Cup is very different to today.
Mentally and physically invigorated after three seasons playing for Kubota Spears, Foley led the Japanese side to the semi-finals of that year’s League One season.
The League One season is also not something to scoff at.
Cooper spent last season playing in the League Two division but looked a million dollars in his 50-minute performance against Michael Cheika’s Pumas side in Argentina.
Foley also starred in the recent campaign and his experience, leadership and class on the pitch are still highly regarded despite his disappointing 2019 campaign, which was marred by drama in Australian rugby on and off the pitch.
Whether or not he plays the Springboks on August 27 at Adelaide Oval remains another matter, with Rennie resisting the temptation to play Cooper in all three of Bledisloe’s Tests last year before his return against the Boks on the Gold Coast. After all, Foley hasn’t played since May 22 and was on vacation in the United States until recently.
Indeed, Rennie still has options with James O’Connor wearing the No.10 shirt against Los Pumas in the Wallabies’ record 48-17 defeat in San Juan.
Another option is Noah Lolesio, who remarkably played no role in either Test despite leading the Wallabies to a Test victory in Perth last month. While Reece Hodge is seen primarily as a utility specialist despite.
The question Rennie is asking is: if Cooper isn’t fit for next year’s World Cup, can any of the other aforementioned names lead the Wallabies to glory?
Foley can play both a short and long-term role, especially with wins and momentum building in next year’s World Cup.
Just last week, Rennie said the No. 10 role was proving to be the hardest to crack.
“I would say yes,” he admitted.
“We’ve talked about No 2, we’ve talked about 10, 15 and the second row for a while, but we’ve got pretty good depth there already with some young guys coming in.”
After remaining coy about Foley’s possible involvement in the future, Rennie said it was vital they continue to develop the next generation of playmakers in the country.
“It’s something we’re talking about and we have plans,” Rennie said.
“We have some good young kids coming in, but not ready for this level yet. We go home and we have South Africa coming up, we have the All Blacks, two of the best teams in the world. It is certainly an area of interest. We need to accelerate the development of our 10 year olds.
Two of those emerging playmakers, Tane Edmed and Ben Donaldson, could still find themselves on this year’s Spring Tour as development players, with the Wallabies set to play five Tests ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Rennie added that O’Connor’s injury history and fitness issues were cause for concern.
“Oh sure it is. But he won the right to play this weekend,” he said.
“We think he will go all the way to a World Cup, but time will tell.
“He can’t wait to get out there and prove he has a lot more football in him.”