Flyhalf Foley welcomes Toomua threat
PROBABLY the most secure five-eighth in the Wallabies since Stephen Larkham, Bernard Foley says the new challenge brought by Matt Toomua for his No.10 jersey will boost the team ahead of the Bledisloe Cup.
Toomua's return to Australia has thrown up the playmaking options when, for the past two years, it has been Foley and Kurtley Beale followed by daylight.
Reece Hodge started one match at No.10 against Japan but is now viewed as a centre, while Quade Cooper was discarded, and a host of other prospects have failed to put any great pressure on Foley.
Toomua, however, brings a genuine threat for the No.10 jersey with the World Cup just over a year away.
Foley has faced criticism for apparently coasting at times in the past 18 months without any real rival, but he does not adhere to the theory he needs Toomua to bring out his best form.
"Hopefully not, I always think I am internally motivated, but maybe it has, maybe it hasn't," Foley said.
"Having Pup (Toomua) back, he is such a wealth of knowledge. He has played at such a high level for such a long period of time. He played when he was 18 or something.
"His experience overseas has definitely helped him see the game differently, and his game is really well rounded now.
"Being able to tap into that and have him push me, and push himself and drive the team, is something that can only be good for us.
"I don't feel added pressure, I think it is great that we have that extra depth and competition throughout our squad is perfect.
"Hopefully not, I always think I am internally motivated, but maybe it has, maybe it hasn't,"
"It is what we need, if we want to be serious and take Australian rugby to the highest heights. We have to have that competition and have everyone pushing for that selection. That depth, especially in that playmaking role, is definitely what we need."
The All Blacks have so much depth at five-eighth that the departure of Lima Sopoaga overseas has barely registered a ripple of concern.
Beauden Barrett is the reigning player of the year, Damian McKenzie has been in brilliant form as back-up, while Crusaders playmaker Richie Mo'unga is seen by many in New Zealand as the best overall playmaker of the three after guiding his side to back-to-back Super Rugby premierships.
Foley believes with Toomua and Beale firing, the Wallabies will have similar potency in their stocks.
"Definitely, and also there are different types of players,' Foley said.
"Sometimes you can use those different combinations. I don't think we are the same player, so having a guy who take the line on or having a guy who is more the distributor who can control a game, just having different flavours in a team definitely helps and allows us to prepare differently and allows us to see different things.
"If we are only seeing through one pair of glasses, you don't get the whole picture. For us to have different players and different input, and different experience, can only be a good thing."
With Sonny Bill Williams ruled out of the opening two Tests, the Wallabies expect New Zealand to field a midfield trio
of Barrett, Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown.
"The guys who have filed the role, Ryan Crotty has been exceptional for the Crusaders this year, he is always exceptional for the All Blacks," Foley said.
"He will be the constant in the midfield there. And whoever they pick at ten and whoever they pick at 13, that won't change too much. You could rely on Lienert-Brown and Barrett getting the nod, and I suppose they have flair and creativity and they also have that combination and consistency, they have been able to play a lot of footy as a three.
Probably what we have always expected but we just have to be able to handle them, and handle them better."
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