RWC Schedule: When is the Rugby World Cup final?Full coverage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup
LONDON: Remember when a Michael Cheika-led team overpowered Richie McCaw and Dan Carter in a grand final?
Or when the Queensland Reds ran rings around New Zealand rugby’s golden boys in 2011?
The jersey colours might be different and the stage much, much bigger, but the Wallabies can call on winning Super Rugby experience to break down the All Blacks aura in the World Cup final.
Cheika is swapping sky blue of NSW for Wallabies gold in the final against New Zealand at Twickenham in one of the biggest trans-Tasman battles in history. But while Wallabies players and coaches boast grand final wins against All Black champions, Bernard Foley says it won’t have a bearing on the result.
The Wallabies and All Blacks are competing for a slice of World Cup history, with the winner to become the first country to lift the Webb Ellis Cup three times. The All Blacks boast a squad full of World Cup-winning experience. But the ns can draw on their Super Rugby triumphs to chase victory.
Almost half of the Wallabies’ 31-man squad have beaten McCaw and his Canterbury Crusaders in Super Rugby finals. Cheika led the Waratahs to victory last year, with Foley booting a last-minute penalty to secure the first Super Rugby title in NSW history.
Four Queensland Reds players were part of the 2011 championship-winning side that also beat McCaw’s men. Super Rugby battles will arrive on the biggest stage of all as Foley takes on Dan Carter, Michael Hooper fights McCaw and Kane Douglas clashes with Sam Whitelock.
Foley says those experiences are nice to have, but won’t help the Wallabies rise to World Cup glory.
“You can draw on those big games for sure and it’s great to win those, but you can’t really compare that to this week or the momentum,” Foley said. “What we’ve done as a side here has been great, we’ve really enjoyed it and what we’re trying to do is be really proud to go out there and put on a display for all ns getting up in the middle of the night. I don’t think you can compare [the Super Rugby final and World Cup final], but you can take confidence that you’ve been in those games before. But this is a new magnitude.”
Foley’s boot will be crucial in the match and he has proved he’s the man with ice in his veins in kicking into the final. He scored 28 points against England and booted a winning penalty in the last minute to beat Scotland in the quarter-final.
The five-eighth says working with World Cup-winning playmaker Stephen Larkham has helped develop his game even further.
“Steve’s been really good with the way he manages games as a player and as a coach,” Foley said. “He’s very strategically sound with the way he goes about managing games and about his preparation, what he wants to do and how he visualises games unfolding.
“I’ve really learnt from that and also the basic skills he’s had that have been drummed into me – the passing and kicking game he was so sound at. He’s got a really smart rugby mind and he looks at it from a really creative angle.”
Larkham labelled Foley’s opposite number, Dan Carter, the No.1 five-eighth in world rugby.
“Dan Carter will be No.1 in the pantheon. Clearly No.1,” Larkham said. “Probably over here in England Jonny Wilkinson will be No.1, but in the southern hemisphere Dan is ranked No.1. He’s shown really good composure during this tournament. His skills haven’t dropped off at all, he picks and chooses when he wants to run and he does that really well.”
The Wallabies will name their team on Thursday night with prop Scott Sio in contention to make a comeback from an elbow injury.