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Foley taking lessons from 2019 into Wallabies second coming

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Returning Wallaby Bernard Foley is heeding the lessons of the 2019 Rugby World Cup as he looks to lead a new generation of players from a similar path.

Foley remained in Japan after their quarter-final exit to England, plying his trade in Top League with Kubota Spears.

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The 32-year-old had accepted his International career could be over, despite qualifying under old Giteau law criteria before chats begin with coach Dave Rennie last year.

Whilst he initially knocked back Rennie’s advance, it allowed him to reflect on his own career, ‘liting the fire again’ for a return in time for the Tests against the Springboks in Adelaide and Sydney.

“Dave and I first spoke after the French series and we had a really good, open chat about whether that was the right timing or somewhere else down the line and for me personally, it wasn’t the right to come in given I was coming back from overseas and bubble and having some family stuff. It probably wasn’t the right time and wasn’t in the right mindset,” he told reporters.

“It gave me time to reflect and really dive down into what I personally needed, lit the fire again about coming back in. We had open chats for the rest of (2021) and this season so to have that call-up and chat three weeks ago, I was eager and jumped at the opportunity.

“I’d always hoped and thought about it but I never thought the opportunity would come up again, especially leaving and going overseas knowing the eligibility had the ability to change, I had to be content with not getting the opportunity again when I left in 2019.

“To now get the opportunity to be back in the squad and wear the colours, I’m pretty grateful and excited to get that second opportunity.”

Not only did he reflect on his career, Foley took the time to understand where it went wrong in 2019.

It provides a unique position in a squad lacking older heads due to injury and withdrawals, urging them to embrace the moment.

“I think we were in a place where we cared too much,” he reflected. “We tried to force it too much and tried too hard to change the outcomes and go in there and have an unbelievable tournament.

“I suppose that’s where the intent and purpose was alright but the exception and how we carried it out, we weren’t able to circuit-break ourselves enough through those couple of years leading up into the World Cup.

“That’s what I’m enjoying about being in here and really understanding there’s only a finite time in this jersey and in this program, doing what we get to do so to make the most of it and enjoy it.

“That’s what I’m trying to tell a guy like Langi (Gleeson), it is a finite amount of time you get to spend in these programs so make the most of every day.”

From the outside looking in, there are clear comparisons to be made between 2019 and 2022 within the halves department as the Wallabies struggle for stability.

In the first three Tests of 2019, then coach Michael Chieka went with three different halves combinations before appearing to settle on a Nic White-Christian Leali’ifano combination ahead of the World Cup.

Bernard Foley is out to teach the lessons of 2019 to a younger generation. Photo: Getty Images
Bernard Foley is out to teach the lessons of 2019 to a younger generation. Photo: Getty Images

However, this changed throughout the tournament as the combo of White, Leali’ifano, Foley and Will Genia were slotted and changed until their ugly exit to England.

Whilst White has remained a constant figure over the past 12 months, Rennie has experimented with Noah Lolesio, James O’Connor and Quade Cooper.

Cooper was the frontrunner before injury and a Spring Tour withdrawal left O’Connor and Lolesio battling for positions.

Lolesio was preferred for England, then replaced by the Reds playmaker, with the experienced O’Connor now out of the squad completely.

Despite this, Foley believes it’s in a much better position than three years ago, excited to add to the ‘healthy’ competition.

“Combinations and time together builds better relationships and creates that understanding, I think 2019 it was completely different from what we have now,” Foley explained.

“The intention and the purpose was right back then just the execution and game plan (wasn’t). I think what we are working with today is competition for spots is a healthy thing within teams. You want guys to drive but coming in and seeing here for one day, everyone is working with each other to get a better outcome and product.

“That’s the exciting thing from the short time I’ve been here is looking to add to that.”

Foley has kept fit after the end of the Japanese season, training with the Waratahs alongside the next generation of halves in Ben Donaldson and Tane Edmed.

He also took the chance to praise Lolesio for his outlook, despite the young half finding himself constantly in and out of the side.

The two barely got a chance to cross paths before Foley’s departure but the Brumbies’ confidence and control is something that has instantly impressed the 71-Test veteran.

“How we can develop these young guys now is really exciting,” he believes.

“I’ve done some work with Benny Donaldson and Tane Edmed, now in here with Noah, I’m really excited because I see these guys as immensely talented. They have the composure, mentality and the Rugby IQ to run teams, they just need the time in the saddle to really understand and master their craft.

“It’s difficult just being young in this environment but I’ve been really impressed with (Noah) coming in and meeting him, just how composed and confident he is. I don’t think it’s been knocked around, I think he’s a guy who can come in and call the shots. I’m excited to be working with him and seeing how he sees the game and will run it.”

Content & Images from – Australia Rugby


International

Savea back at the helm of the Hurricanes

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All Blacks loose forward Ardie Savea will captain the Hurricanes again for the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season.

Savea, who will have his 11th season in the side, will mark his first appearance in the competition by playing his 120th game.

The Hurricanes’ season opens against the Reds in round one.

Savea said: “I’m looking forward to the season, especially getting out to the communities, when we play in Levin against the Crusaders for our pre-season game and Palmerston North against the Western Force on Sunday, April 2.

“We’ve just moved into our new facility, and there’s something awesome about change; it’s brought in a lot of energy. It’s refreshing to come in and be in a new space alongside other professional teams. Hopefully, being here can help us move forward and prepare well for our games.”

The facility is part of the New Zealand Campus of Innovation and Sport at what was the Central Institute of Technology at Trentham and houses, several Wellington-based teams.

Coach Jason Holland was delighted to be able to call on Savea’s leadership ability again.

“Ardie is a special leader. He’s the sort of guy you want to follow in whatever he does. He’s worked hard at his leadership around all the small details, around how to get the best out of the people around him.

“He’s been good at driving us as a group, players and management, about being well-planned and clear in our roles in what we’re leading.

“Ards has a great relationship with all the boys and cares about them and the team and that shows in the way he leads.”

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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Marshall primed for Crusaders coaching opportunity

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James Marshall couldn’t escape rugby’s draw after retiring from playing and failed in his promised avoidance of the coaching ranks.

The former Super Rugby title winner with the Hurricanes has fitted into coaching so well that he will spend 2023 as backs coach for the Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific.

Auckland-born Marshall started his rugby career with Tasman, but when missing a place in the Super Rugby structure, in a team or wider training group, he had a chance as a 20-year-old to play in Italy with Zebre.

It proved a stimulating experience in coping with playing a different style of rugby at a different level.

He returned to New Zealand six months later for another three seasons with Tasman before getting a chance in the Hurricanes’ wider squad. He had spent four years trying to get a place in the Crusaders.

“I could never crack it as a player but I’m here now as a coach,” he said.

“It is surreal to be here now. When I finished rugby, I promised my wife I wouldn’t get into coaching. We had moved around so many times during my career, even when I was playing for the Hurricanes moving to Taranaki every six months.

“We worked it out there were well over 20 houses we lived in throughout my career so when I got to the end of it I did say I wouldn’t be chasing the coaching dream, and I wouldn’t be moving the family around any more.”

However, back in Nelson, he got the chance to work with Andrew Goodman and Shane Christie, which gave him coaching work where he had decided to settle.

“Then a couple of years later,, I get a call from Razor [Scott Robertson] and it really throws a spanner in the works for my wife and when I got the opportunity, it was a no brainer. It’s such a good opportunity for me to learn and see where coaching can now take me.”

He contacted David Havili to see if he felt Marshall could do the job asked of him as backs coach and to see if he would have the backing of the players.

Havili got back in touch to say how much he thought Marshall could add to the environment. He also contacted some of his Hurricanes contacts and admitted being surprised at how supportive they were.

The Crusaders were one of the most successful sides in the sport’s history, and looking from the outside while playing, he had always wondered what went on and how they did it.

“It’s been impressive. It’s a well-run ship. Razor does a great job. Scotty Hansen, the detail he has on the rugby programme. Tamati Ellison, some of his coaching, it’s all world-class.

“It’s been awesome for me as a young coach to witness these guys at work and try and learn as much as I can off them.

“There’s also the players. It’s a pretty impressive squad when you look at it on paper and the chance to work with some world-class athletes and try and teach them as much as I can, but also try and learn from them,” he said.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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6 Nations

RTÉ And Virgin Media Confirm Details Of Free-To-Air Six Nations Coverage

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RTÉ and Virgin Media Television today announced details of its joint Guinness Six Nations coverage, where the action will be free-to-air for supporters in the Republic of Ireland.

Kicking off on Friday, 3 February, this year’s Six Nations coverage will include all fixtures from Ireland’s Men’s, Women’s and U20 tournaments.

The partnership will see all games equally aired across both broadcasters again this year.

The 2023 Men’s Six Nations will open with Ireland v Wales on Virgin Media One, followed by England v Scotland on RTÉ2. Ireland will then take on current champions France on Saturday, 11 February.

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations will begin on Sunday, 26 March with Wales v Ireland.

Speaking at this morning’s launch at the Aviva Stadium, presenters Jacqui Hurley and Joe Molloy were joined on stage by members of their broadcast teams this year including pundits Rob Kearney, Fiona Hayes (Virgin Media Television), and RTÉ’s Jamie Heaslip and Hannah Tyrrell.

RTÉ also confirmed that Irish international and Munster player Simon Zebo will be joining their punditry team.

Commenting, Head of RTÉ Sport, Declan McBennett said: “With this being a great year for rugby, there is added excitement about this year’s Six Nations which RTÉ is once again bringing to sports fans all over the country free-to-air along with Virgin Media Ireland as part of our historic partnership which we launched last year.

“It’s going to be a huge year for Irish rugby and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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