Wallabies praise ‘calm’ Foley as they look to break Eden Park hoodoo

Tue, Sep 20, 2022, 5:12 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Wallabies and All Blacks played out an all-time classic in Melbourne

The Wallabies have heaped praise on returning flyhalf Bernard Foley after nearly engineering a famous comeback against the All Blacks last week, looking to continue it on Saturday at Eden Park.

After three yellow cards in 16 minutes, the hosts had little answer for the Kiwis as they raced to two quick tries to take a 31-13 lead after 54 minutes.

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This left Wallabies fans fearing a blowout, finding themselves in a near-identical position as last year's second Bledisloe at Eden Park.

Dave Rennie's men trailed 31-15 after 52 minutes before three tries in ten minutes blew the result out to 57-22, Australia's worse loss against the All Blacks in New Zealand.

Instead, it was the calm hand of Foley that got the Wallabies back into the contest, twice putting Andrew Kellaway in for tries before slotting a crucial conversation from the sidelines to set up the grandstand finish.

Whilst they couldn't hold on, Wallabies duo Allan Alaalatoa and Lalakai Foketi praised the 34-year-old's calming nature to keep the game alive at that moment.

“I just remember the time when it was 31-13 and we’re under the sticks and ‘Nard (Foley) just came in and calmed the boys down, he was awesome in that moment,” Alaalatoa revealed to reporters.

“We didn’t want to steer away from our game plan. We wanted to take it to them and have that belief and I think that moment was huge for us because it was (a) turning point. Having that calm, experience message was awesome.

“He was just saying to keep having that belief, not go out from our game plan and not go from our system and try and pull something out of our arse. The boys stuck to the game plan and really gave us an opportunity to win."

“Being out there, there was no feeling of disbelief or thought the All Blacks were going to run away with it,” Foketi interjected.

“It was just the belief and the leaders, especially ‘Nard coming in, staying controlled and giving us our next role. I felt like we were still in good stead to keep doing what we’re doing and keep in the game.”

Whilst the Bledisloe drought will continue, there is another that remains firmly on players' minds.

The Wallabies have not tasted success against the All Blacks at Eden Park since 1986, losing their last 22 Tests.

To put into context, no player was alive the last time Australia came away from Auckland with the victory over their trans-Tasman rivals, with coach Dave Rennie only just beginning his stint as a player with Wellington.

Alaalatoa knows the Kiwis will be fired up for the clash with the Rugby Championship on the line, embracing the opportunity.

“It’s huge. That’s why you want to play, to be involved in these big games," he believes.

“The All Blacks look at Eden Park as their fortress and they’ll be confident off the back of back-to-back wins.

“Playing at home, there’s that expectation from the home crowd to get the win. When you’re the opposition team, that’s the games you want to be a part of.

“It’s a huge motivating factor for us. We just have to nail our detail and how we want to play and channel everything into Saturday.”

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