Tahs backing ‘Iceman’ to regain best form
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson is expecting Bernard Foley to bounce back from his slow start to the Super Rugby season, saying the 'Iceman' was simply putting too much pressure on himself to live up his high standards.
Normally one of the most reliable players in the side, Foley hasn't hit peak form so far this season, either in general play or with his kicking, but Gibson said it wasn't from any lack of trying.
"Bernard's probably working the hardest of any player at the moment on and off the field and he wants to get back to those levels that we expect of an international player," he said.
"A lot of it is freeing him up a little. He's carrying a lot of his own expectation around what he should be performing at and really just freeing the mind and letting him going in and playing as a champion player should."
Foley isn't the only big-name Waratah yet to hit his straps in the early part of the season with Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau both openly admitting that it was taking longer than usual for the combinations to click.
The backs were given few opportunities in the win against the Reds two weeks ago because of a lack of possession but let themselves down in last weekend's loss to the Brumbies by repeatedly coughing up the ball in attack.
"It's been the story of our start to the season so far," Gibson said.
"It's one thing we've spoken a lot about is our ball control and our decision making during those moments when we have good periods of play and it ends in a disappointing way.
"We've looked at our mindset and what we're trying to achieve with the ball when we do have it on hand making sure we're far more secure with it."
Gibson has kept faith with his forward pack but made two changes to his starting backline to face the Crusaders at the Sydncy Cricket Ground on Saturday night with Nick Phipps replacing Jake Gordon at halfback and Cam Clark starting on the wing for Curtis Rona.
Karmichael Hunt returns to the bench after being ruled out of the Brumbies' match with an injury he picked up training while loose forward Michael Wells is back after miss the first five rounds while away on Sevens duties.
"Karmichael is obviously still recovering from that hamstring, (but) definitely will get game time and that's a good thing for him," Gibson said.
"He's recovering reasonably well, well enough to take a place there.
"Cam's one of our best defensive wingers, we know how many passes the Crusaders are going to sling in this game, they love to keep the ball so defence for us is going to be a real important factor."