Bernard Foley was a late scratching for the Waratahs’ crucial home game against the Brumbies, with lingering concussion symptoms again delaying the start of his Super Rugby season.
Foley trained throughout the week and took part in the traditionally light captain’s run session on Friday morning but coach Daryl Gibson ruled out his Test No.10 later in the day.
“Bernard isn’t quite 100 per cent and still experiencing some symptoms,” Gibson said.
“He has trained all week and completed his cognitive tests. We have seen improvements but he still has some symptoms lingering.
“It’s frustrating for Bernard being so very close – he more than anyone wants to be back out on the field.
“But we won’t want to push him so we’ll give him more time and ensure we take all the necessary precautions to get him back to 100 per cent.”
Foley himself had openly targeted the round-four fixture for his return and gone to the trouble of getting his traditional big-game haircut on Thursday, teammate Nick Phipps revealed.
But the return wasn’t to be, and both Phipps and attack coach Chris Malone made it clear there was no pressure on their playmaker to risk his health for the team.
“Obviously we want him back on the field but we want to make sure he’s completely right before he comes back,” Phipps said.
“Especially in modern day sport, there’s so much emphasis put on concussion rules and regulations, it’s good to see him back not having any recurring headaches.”
Earlier on Friday Malone defended the late call on the Wallabies No.10.
“We can’t say you’re going to play, because he came out of training today and he had a headache we have to respect the fact his wellbeing is foremost,” he said.
The Waratahs have followed World Rugby return-to-play protocols, which require a player to be symptom free after training and pass a range of cognitive tests.
“It’s something that six years ago no one paid too much attention to,” Phipps said.
“I remember playing a lot of games and seeing blokes get concussed and then probably back on again in 10 minutes having a run around again.
“Rules are changing for the better and it’s good to see a lot of the players are being protected, especially seeing stuff over in the US, it’s sort of brutal and cutthroat over there. It’s good that and the rest of SANZAAR are leading the way in that area.”
Despite the drama surrounding Foley, there is no doubt the Waratahs are a stronger team going into the game at Allianz Stadium, with influential forwards Will Skelton and Jed Holloway back in the starting line-up and primed for battle against a strong Brumbies pack.
Phipps, who along with Sekope Kepu and Michael Hooper will play his 100th Super Rugby match on Saturday, said the Waratahs had talked about how important it was to win at home this week, especially after a disappointing two weeks on the road in South Africa.
“Overseas you know the French and UK clubs put so much attention on their home games and try to pick up one or two on the road after that,” he said.
“We’ve just got to make sure we’re winning our home games not only for the points but to keep our fans and our strong supporters there.”Read more