Foley inspired by Cooper’s Test return
Veteran playmaker Quade Cooper’s impact on the Wallabies last year has been inspirational for Bernard Foley as he looks to play his first Test in three years.
Foley has been recalled to the Wallabies squad ahead of their first Rugby League Test against South Africa on Saturday in Adelaide, having left after the 2019 World Cup to play in Japan.
The five-eighth Cooper returned to the Test arena after a four-year absence in 2021, guiding the side to five straight wins, including back-to-back wins over world champion Springboks.
Two years younger than his 34-year-old teammate, who is sidelined after rupturing his Achilles tendon while playing in Argentina, Foley said he was inspired by Cooper’s impact down the side.
“Certainly I was really impressed with the way he came back and the experience and composure he was able to add to the team,” the 71 Test veteran told the media on Monday.
“You’ve seen just about every player around him rise and grow in stature and confidence by having that experience and that voice and that composure next to them, leading the team.
“His influence and effect on the team has been huge and it’s sad to see his injury…this opportunity is falling on me now.”
Foley said his first conversation with Wallabies coach Dave Rennie about a comeback came last year, but the timing was not right.
However, the former Waratahs playmaker said he had “lit the fire” to wear Australian colors again and was grateful for a second chance.
Foley felt his time in Japan, playing alongside current Springboks hooker Malcolm Marx, made him a more worldly player.
“There are guys out there who come with different mindsets around the game, so it’s really good to have those discussions,” he said.
While studying the Wallabies playbook, Foley only joined the team on Sunday and hasn’t played a game since May, meaning Noah Lolesio is more likely to start at 10 at the club. Adelaide Oval.
Foley felt the Wallabies playmaking role was in good hands with Lolesio and compatriot Ben Donaldson, who is training with the Test squad.
“I was really impressed coming to meet Noah, how calm and confident he is,” Foley said.
“I think he’s a guy who can come in and make the decisions and I’m really excited to work with him.
“These guys are hugely talented – they have the composure, the mentality and probably the rugby IQ to lead teams.
“They just need that experience, that time in the saddle to really master their craft.”
Foley said his availability for the UK and European spring tour is yet to be determined, but he is eyeing his third Rugby World Cup next year in France.
“It’s definitely on the radar,” he said, “but I’m here day one trying to connect with the guys and figure out how we want to play, so there’s a lot of footy and a lot time between now and then.”