SPORTS

Foley Or Leali’ifano? Toss For Wallaby Fly-Half Position To Face Flying Fijians

Foley was one of the tournament’s best players as the Wallabies marched to the final at Twickenham four years ago, although some critics say he hasn’t played as well since.
13 Sep 2019 15:21
Foley Or Leali’ifano? Toss For Wallaby Fly-Half Position To Face Flying Fijians
Bernard Foley and Christian Lealiifano of Australia sit in an ice bath in Odawara

The debate on who should don the No.10 jersey for the Australian Wallabies against the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians in their Rugby World Cup opener on September 21, is now heating up.

Former Wallabies captain and member of the 1991 and 1999 RWC winning teams, Phil Kearns, told Fox Sports that he prefered Bernard Foley to start against the Fijians.

Kearns leaned towards what worked best at the 2015 RWC when assessing the tight selection calls coach Michael Cheika would have to make in Japan. That year, Foley faced Fiji’s Ben Volavola who was making his debut and now plays a crucial role in their campaign.

Foley was one of the tournament’s best players as the Wallabies marched to the final at Twickenham four years ago, although some critics say he hasn’t played as well since.

Lealiifano is seen as having his nose in front in the battle to wear No.10 against Fiji in next week’s opening pool game.

Boasting superior Super Rugby form than Foley, in a Brumbies team playing at a higher level than the Waratahs, Lealiifano ended three years out of the Test scene with starts against Argentina and in both Bledisloe Cup showdowns.

He added a fluent dimension in the 47-26 win over the All Blacks in Perth, but was guilty of basic errors in the following week’s return 36-0 loss at Eden Park.

“It’s great to have Christian back. He showed a really good performance, but also an average performance,” Kearns told AAP.

“When Bernard’s on song, he’s a very, very good 10 and very reliable, which is so important. I think the biggest issue isn’t so much which one, but who can be most consistently good?

“And I think your 10 is probably going to have to be playing six games or seven games at the tournament, so that consistency factor is critical.”

Foley, who turned 30 on Sunday, wasn’t at his best in general play and with his goalkicking in the previous day’s 34-17 win over Samoa.

Cheika gave no hint of his preference for the playmaking role, saying “maybe there isn’t a wrong choice” in several of his squad’s most competitive positions.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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