Ben Horne June 02, 2012
Michael O'Connor rates Bernard Foley as one of the greatest Sevens Rugby players there's been and someone who could break the mould of international fullbacks if given a Wallabies debut during the June Tests.
During his playing days, dual-international O'Connor was himself an attacking master and starred alongside some of the most gifted game-breakers to ever play union and league.
And now in his role as Australian Sevens coach, his job has been to identify and mentor attacking wizards - and O'Connor promises they don't come any better equipped than Foley.
The 22-year-old has been a revelation in the No.15 jersey for NSW this year, and finds himself in the Wallabies train-on squad despite only making his Super Rugby debut in the Waratahs' preliminary final of 2011.
O'Connor has no doubt his former pupil's "sharp football brain" and willingness to run the ball will enable him to excel in the Test arena just as quickly.
"His first instinct is to attack. He's very much out of the mould I reckon at the moment with international rugby players," O'Connor told AAP.
"He carries it in two hands and his last option generally is to kick ... he doesn't kick for the sake of kicking.
"He's got a very good intellect. You often see a lot of smart kids who aren't so smart on the footy field. But he's got rugby IQ and he's got general IQ.
"He's more than equipped. You'd benchmark him against the best Sevens players in the world and he's up there."
O'Connor described former Sevens captain and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Foley as "a big game player" and said Wallabies selectors were well aware of his potential.
Given he's yet to play a Test and will be backing up from the Waratahs Super Rugby match on Saturday night, Foley is at best an outside chance for the Scotland Test on Tuesday in Newcastle.
However, with three internationals to come against Wales and with No.15 incumbent Kurtley Beale for the moment sidelined through injury, Foley is well in the mix to claim his first gold jersey.
After unseating Wallabies star Adam Ashley-Cooper for the fullback spot at the Waratahs early in the season, Foley has been a shining light in an otherwise dismal season for NSW.
Foley said he was personally satisfied with his breakout year, but the prospect of a Wallabies debut hadn't yet sunk in.
"As a young boy growing up with my brothers and everything that's all we ever wanted to be was just be a Wallaby, so it's a bit of a dream come true," he said.
"It's still probably a little bit off, I don't have it yet so I can't really be thinking about it yet.
"When it's your first year, you haven't really been to it before so you get excited for every training session and every game. Throughout the pre-season I was just hopeful of trying to get a bench spot ... so it's been satisfying to cement a spot."