Cheika to decide on Foley by end of year
Photo Source: AAP
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will decide by the end of this year whether to persist with Bernard Foley as a fulltime inside centre.
The playmaking roles along with the lock spots have been major areas of contention this year, with Cheika on Monday calling for this second rowers to stand up and be counted.
Foley started the season at five-eighth but has played the last five Tests in the No.12 jersey since Quade Cooper was recalled at fly half for the second Bledisloe Cup Test in August.
With Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano and Rob Horne unavailable Foley was pressed into service at inside centre.
Australia have a 3-2 record since resorting to the Cooper-Foley playmaking combination and they appear to be growing in confidence after a tentative start.
With Saturday's Bledisloe Cup game in Auckland to be followed by five Tests on the spring tour, Cheika is prepared to wait until the end of the season before deciding whether to keep Foley at 12 or switch him back to 10.
Cheika said the Wallabies had shown more attacking shape in addition to better work rate in defence in recent games.
While Cheika was happy with his efforts in the unfamiliar position, he stressed Foley still had scope for improvement at inside centre.
"I think he's done a good job considering he's playing well out of position," Cheika said,
"He has taken to the role. He's had to pick up some different defensive duties as well and I think he's made good hay of it considering.
I still think that he's got improvement in him in that position and we'll have to work hard on him because that's obviously a pivotal position he's playing, the second playmaker."
Cheika has shuffled his locks around more than any other area of his side this year and made it clear he wanted more from his big men.
"I don't think I'll be talking out of school by saying those guys have been inconsistent in that area and I want them to be consistent," Cheika said.
"I want therm to bring a bit more in the game, that's the engine room of the game."
Cheika doubted going for a world record 18th straight win on Saturday would put pressure on the All Blacks.
He felt they wouldn't be stressed about facing Australia after scoring ten tries in their two big wins over the Wallabies in August.
"I would say that they would be thinking that they are going to do it easy, we haven't really tested them this year," he said.