Foley happy to ignore external noise

Sun, 06 Nov 2016 07:25
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REACTION: Bernard Foley said he and his Australian teammates were set on ignoring any criticism, instead focusing on ever-improving performances after demolishing Wales in their tour opener.

Flyhalf Foley was magnificent in his role in the 32-8 victory on Saturday, thriving behind a dominant pack and quick service from scrumhalf Nic Phipps to feed a wealth of willing, free-running backs outside him.

Three first half tries and two more in the second period, including one from Foley, set up a comprehensive win in the first game of a six-match tour in which Australia could win their first Grand Slam since 1984.

"I think something we put a lot of emphasis on is coming here and starting this tour well and this week preparation was immense. You can't fault how the guys prepared for this game and I think what was real pleasing was it was our defence, it didn't waver all game.

"When our attack wasn't working in the second half we were still able to score two tries off the back of our defence and that's probably one thing this team wants to pride ourselves on. It's something we've taken a lot of positives out of," Foley said.

Michael Cheika's Wallabies have come in for criticism after a string of poor results following their appearance in the 2015 World Cup Final.

A June series whitewash by England and a record home defeat by New Zealand in the Rugby Championship put Cheika and the squad in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, but Foley insisted it was water off a duck's back.

"For us, there is a lot of external noise and there has been this year and I think it's something we've had to put up with but as a squad we're taking no notice of that external noise.

"We're just focused on our roles in this squad and be really tight as a group. The resilience this team has showed, the character it's showed, and the Tests we've been out through this year is just setting the platform, hopefully, for future success," he added.

Foley has proved to be somewhat of a thorn in Wales' side in recent times. In 2013, he came off the bench in the final five minutes as Australia snatched a 30-26 victory and a year later hit three penalties, three conversions and a crucial drop-goal in the closing stages as the visitors won again.

Then during the World Cup pool game at Twickenham 13 months ago, he struck five penalties to help his team to a 15-6 win over Wales to finish top their group.

"I was happy. We came here with a plan and we were able to execute it. We were prepared for what the Welsh bring and then try to nullify their threats and then also look at opportunities for us in attack.

"The backs worked really hard off the back of the platform the forwards set. I think it was, especially that first half, probably set us up really well," he stated.

Thoughts now, however, turn to Scotland, whom Australia play next weekend.

"The Scottish are a side that we've had some close encounters with in the past couple of years. You only have to look back at last year's World Cup quarter-final. They're a team that if you're ill-disciplined and if you knock off at set piece, they'll really hurt you," he said.

Foley reiterated Cheika's stance that there had been no talk of the Grand Slam.

"Not at all! That's where you fall over, if you start looking ahead, that's where we'll stumble or fall over," he stated.

Agence France-Presse