Foley primed to put boot in again
BERNARD Foley looms as the Wallabies’ X-factor in the Rugby World Cup knockout stages, with statistics pegging him as the third-most-lethal sharp shooter remaining.
Tries are expected to be at a premium as the World Cup’s heavyweight teams go head to head in a tournament where ever-improving defences have been dominant.
Going into the weekend’s quarter-finals, the importance of goalkickers soars and Foley is the man who can give Australia a vital edge.
Under the tutelage of new Wallabies kicking coach Chris Malone, he has become one of the most reliable in the business. Foley enjoyed a breakout game against England, in which he crossed for two tries and kicked seven from seven for a personal haul of 28 points.
But it simply highlighted what the Wallabies already knew and Foley backed it up with another terrific display against Wales, kicking his first five penalty attempts before botching his final shot with the result assured.
According to goalkicking analysts goalkickers.co.za, Foley has made marked progress in the past two years. Its rating system is based on the difficulty of each kick.
In 2014, Foley was ranked 51st of all kickers in the Super Rugby despite guiding the NSW Waratahs to a maiden title – kicking at a percentage of 77.2 but with a rating of 4.68.
Through the pool stages of the World Cup, he’s missed just two of 19 attempts. Only Wales’ Dan Biggar (15 from 16) and France’s Morgan Parra (six from six) have better ratings of players from teams that reached the quarter-finals.