Michael Foley named as a new Wallaby Assistant Coach



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Australian National Coach John Connolly and Australian Rugby Union Managing Director and CEO Gary Flowers have today named former Test hooker, Michael Foley as one of the new Qantas Wallabies Assistant Coaches.

Foley, who will take on the role of Re-Starts Coach, will be a key member of the new-look coaching structure in preparation for the 2007 Rugby World Cup, with Connolly looking to finalise his coaching team in the coming weeks.

“Michael Foley is a very good young coach, with plenty of experience and technical knowledge,” said Connolly.

“He has a strong vision for how we want to play the game, and how we need to move forward this season, as well as looking ahead to the World Cup next year.”

“He will be a huge asset to the Wallabies and Australian Rugby, and it will be great to see him return home to take up this challenge.”

Gary Flowers says the naming of Foley as one of the new Assistant Coaches is a further step in the Wallabies’ preparations for this season and ultimately the Rugby World Cup.

“John Connolly has been extremely supportive in putting a new coaching structure in place and instrumental in matching up specific roles with the right coaching personnel,” said Flowers.

“Michael is an experienced and talented coach and while he’s heavily involved in his role as an Assistant Coach at Bath at the moment, we’re looking forward to welcoming him home in a month or so.”

“He’ll not only be a huge asset for the Wallabies, but also Australian Rugby, helping develop coaching structures at the Under 19s and Under 21s level as well.”

One of Australia‘s most capped front row forwards, with 50 Tests and more than 100 matches at state level, Foley moved straight into a coaching role at Bath after finishing his playing career for the Wallabies and Queensland in 2001.

An Assistant Coach at Bath for the last four years, he has always been renowned as a keen student of the set piece, and his technical skills and understanding of the contemporary game have helped the Bath pack become one of the most formidable in the English Premiership.

While disappointed to be leaving the UK after a strong association with the club over the last four years, Foley says the opportunity to return home to Australia as a Wallaby Assistant Coach is just too good.

“This is certainly a great opportunity and a challenge I’m extremely excited about,” said Foley.

“I’ve worked with John as a player for more than a decade and more recently as a coach at Bath.  I know we complement each other well, and I know we also have a lot of work to do this season and ahead of the World Cup next year.”

“The Wallaby forwards came under plenty of scrutiny last year, but already in the Super 14 we’ve seen players and packs improve remarkably.  That’s not to say there isn’t room for further improvement, but the early signs are pleasing.”

A member of the victorious 1999 Rugby World Cup team, and a Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations victor, Foley was also a member of the 2001 Wallaby squad to defeat the British & Irish Lions and despite being born in Sydney, played his senior rugby for Queensland, making his state debut in 1991 on the Reds tour of Argentina.

Foley will finish his coaching commitments with Bath in late April or early May, before returning to Australia to begin preparations for the first Test of the season against England at Telstra Stadium in Sydney on Sunday 11 June.

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