Focused: Bernard Foley is excited to get back in the sky blue of NSW to take on the Highlanders in a pre-season trial. Photo: Peter RaeBernard Foley wants the Waratahs backline to channel their inner Tom Brady by remaining composed at all times when they tackle the Highlanders on Thursday.
Foley, a keen NFL fan, tuned into the Super Bowl last Monday morning to watch star New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady orchestrate a miraculous comeback to win his fifth championship ring.
Foley tweeted late in the game, “You think you’ve seen it all, and then this”.
Brady will go down as one of the all-time greats and be remembered for his ability to always keep calm regardless of the situation.
Foley used the Brady analogy when discussing how he wanted inexperienced Waratahs duo Jake Gordon and Irae Simone to go about their business against last year’s semi-finalists the Highlanders.
“It’s communication and composure, ease those guys into the game, a bit like the Tom Brady effect,” Foley said. “Just allow them to do their job, not to overplay their hand, not to try and push the pass or do too much for the team.
“As you always do when you’re a young person or inexperienced in a team, you want to go out there and prove yourself first-up, but for those guys they’re really capable footballers. It’s for them to do their job for the team.
“My brother’s a big Tom Brady fan, so he always is preaching to me about it. He’s a very impressive athlete and the way that he can control himself and show that composure especially in those drives in that Super Bowl … that’s something I’ll take out of him and the Patriots’ organisation in what they believe in.”
Thursday will mark Foley’s first game of 2017 after a busy season last year, in which he started all 15 Wallabies Tests.
Foley has had the benefit of a proper off-season given he went to Japan to play after the 2015 World Cup leading into last year’s Super Rugby season.
But his pre-season was far from ideal, with injury ruling him out of the first three matches.
“This year I’ve really enjoyed coming in and having a four-week block of pre-season,” Foley said. “We’ve been training pretty hard. It’s hot, we haven’t been able to escape the heat, so I’ve been eager and watching on the sidelines. Looking forward to getting into this competition.”
Foley said the Waratahs were a little unsure about their structures last year under new coach Daryl Gibson.
NSW were slow out of the blocks, winning just two of their first six matches, something Foley said might have been because of some confusion as to what style they wanted to play.
“At the start of last year … we were probably a bit hesitant on how we wanted to play on the new structures Daryl implemented,” Foley said. “We’ve changed things again but everyone is a lot more certain in where we want to go. It’s in no way going to be perfect in these couple of rounds but I think the style and the attitude that the players have shown in the first couple of pre-season games … has been impressive.”
Foley, 27, said he felt an added sense of responsibility to lift his game in the absence of playmaker Kurtley Beale and a number of other experienced figures who have left since the Waratahs won the Super Rugby title in 2014.
“In the past couple of years you’ve looked around and had the likes of Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, guys who have been stalwarts of rugby,” Foley said. “Now looking around in that backline there is a bit of a void but it’s a challenge that I have to take up along with myself and Israel [Folau].”