He’s barely been with New South Wales a week, but former Australia set-piece guru Michael Foley is thrilled by the attitude of his young charges.
Adrian Warren writes on Fox that Foley took up his new position as Waratah’s assistant coach at the start of the week and is already seeing the young NSW pack put up its hands to replace the key veterans lost to the team in recent months.
Lock Dan Vickerman and backrowers David Lyons and Rocky Elsom all headed to the northern hemisphere last year, while prop Matt Dunning was ruled out of the coming Super 14 tournament with a serious achilles injury.
Between them, the quartet have amassed well over 170 Test caps, while new Test prop Sekope Kepu will miss most of the Super 14 because of a torn pectoral muscle.
While some of Waratahs Test stars don’t resume training until next Monday, the man credited with rebuilding Australia’s much-maligned scrum was heartened by the way some of the younger players were stepping forward.
Foley revealed new Test forward Dean Mumm and towering young lock Chris Thomson had been working on their lineout calls, the area Vickerman and Elsom had dominated for Waratahs in recent years.
“With both guys (Vickerman and Elsom gone) it creates a bit of stress in one sense, but a real opportunity in another,” Foley said.
“We’ve very excited by the fact that guys like Dean Mumm and Chris Thomson are stepping forward and saying ‘I’m keen to assume responsibility for this’.”
Foley hoped some of the emerging Waratahs would follow the example of young centre Rob Horne, who blossomed last year after replacing boom recruit Timana Tahu.
“A lot of people have talked about Dan Vickerman’s absence and replacing a person like that in a number of ways, and the guys that we have here are quite prepared to take on that responsibility, they are not shying away from it, which is quite an exciting thing,” Foley said.
“Last year Rob Horne as a young guy stepped in and grabbed the opportunity by the neck and made the best of it.
“He played wonderfully well as a rookie and I think the guys that will step into the team as a result of the absence and guys like David Lyons, Rocky Elsom and Dan Vickerman, who have been wonderful servants for Australian and NSW rugby will have an opportunity as well.
“They will be able to either grab it by the scruff of the neck and make it theirs or they will struggle, and we are quite confident that the guys we have will do what Rob Horne did.
“Only time will tell.”
Waratahs invited a number of young props to training this week and Foley confirmed NSW was still in the market to sign one more front rower.
“That’s something we won’t rush, to sign someone for the sake of it.”Tweet