The Waratahs look set to have their star playmaker Bernard Foley back for this weekend’s Super Rugby match on Sunday against the Reds in Brisbane.
The Waratahs have made a poor start to the 2016 season and are effectively in 13th place after four rounds which makes them desperate for Foley to return and add some spark.
Foley trained with the team on Tuesday and completed a full-contact session without any complaints of discomfort following a month of being on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.
Waratahs assistant coach Chris Malone has refused to blame Foley for the team’s poor start but he does admit that the No.10’s expected return is a huge boost for the site.
“Bernard’s a proven match-winner and a level head and can guide the team well, so it will be good to have him back,” Malone told AAP.
The backs coach pointed out that while Kurtley Beale had done a decent job standing in for Foley the Wallabies flyhalf had not missed a single game in three seasons prior to his current injury.
“So everyone’s comfortable also with him there,” he said.
“We’re lucky that it (injury striking Foley) didn’t happen over the last few years.”
Should Foley make his return this weekend it does create a selection headache for head coach Daryl Gibson but Malone said that the back line selections could depend on who Foley wants to play alongside him in his return match.
“If Bernard came back in, what would he feel most comfortable with – they’re the things you’re tossing up,” Malone said.
“What’s the team going to be most comfortable with? What’s the bold decision to make, or what are the bold moves?
“But we’ve got options.”
The most likely scenario is that Beale would shift to inside centre and partner Rob Horne in the midfield which pushes David Horwitz out of the starting team.
Foley partnered with Beale in the Waratahs 2014 title bid and also in last year charge to the Semi-finals so the pair have familiarity.
Whoever the Waratahs do select for Sunday’s match Malone has demanded a big step in performance after they let the Highlanders race out to a 0-30 lead before coming back to lose 26-30.
Malone described the team’s effort against the Highlanders as “just a bumbling frustration”.
“If you get the ball thrown to you, you catch it,” he said.
“You take the ball into contact, it comes back out to us, not to them.
“We’ve got to stick with the Tahs identity, but we can be smarter.”