Foley takes back the five-eighth role as Cheika fights for his future

Foley takes back the five-eighth role as Cheika fights for his future
Wallaby sharpshooter Bernard Foley. Photo: David Molloy Photography, Wikimedia Commons

Bernard Foley has been named at number 10 for the Wallabies when they take on Argentina in Salta this weekend. Foley has been the long-term five-eighth for the Wallabies since 2014 under coach Michael Cheika, but in the last three games Kurtley Beale has been preferred in the position.

For the Argentina match Beale returns to the inside centre position, where he has been one of the Wallabies best players since the last World Cup and where he had a stand-out season for the Waratahs outside Foley. Matt Toomua, who has been playing 12 outside Beale and has been steady but not exceptional, moves to the bench.

The Foley-Beale playmaking duo has proven itself to be absolutely lethal in attack, and Cheika will be hoping that they can recover the form that saw the pair make the Waratahs the best attacking team in Super Rugby and took them to the semi-finals. The Wallabies have averaged about 2 tries per game this year, which is not enough to compete with the best teams in the world.

Foley played the most minutes of any player in the Super Rugby competition, and he has had a heavy club and international schedule since the last World up. He looked tired in the Wallabies losses to New Zealand, which was the reason he was dropped to the bench. He was strong in his appearances off the bench, however, and has a strong claim to be the best goal kicker in the world which will help if the match is tight.

Foley also has an established combination with the Wallabies best strike weapon, Israel Folau, and his short kicking game tends to unlock the best of Folau in the air. He finished the Super Rugby season with a strong claim to being the form five-eighth in the southern hemisphere after claiming the highest individual points total along with the most line break assists.

Cheika is under enormous pressure as coach considering the Wallabies 2-6 record this season, and anything other than a win of more than 7 points will see the Australian side finish last in the Rugby Championship for the first time ever.

Apart from reuniting Beale with his regular partner in crime the starting team is unchanged from last week’s close loss to South Africa, while on the bench Caleb Timu is likely to take the spot of either Rob Simmons or Rory Arnold, Tolu Latu will be reserve hooker for the injured Tatafu Polota-Nau and Tom Banks comes into the 23 for the injured Jack Maddocks. The match will be played at 9:40 tomorrow morning (Sydney time).