Competition fires Wallaby contenders

Bernard Foley admits he and NSW Waratahs playmaking partner Kurtley Beale haven’t flourished consistently this Super Rugby season.

But the Wallabies five-eighth is hopeful things are clicking in time for the finals and, potentially, the Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup.

Beale returned to some of his best form at the weekend, with his sharp running and clever passing almost dragging the defending champions back from the brink against the Lions in Johannesburg.

It was the Wallaby inside centre’s 100th game for the Waratahs and admist protracted contract negotiations.

“I think KB’s been really good,” Foley told AAP ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

“His professionalism has been really good all season.

“As playmakers of this side, we probably haven’t flourished as much as we would’ve liked – we’ve sort of had some games where we’ve played well and some games where we haven’t played as well.

“Hopefully we can start clicking and playing some good footy together.”

Both Foley and Beale face stiff competition for Wallabies roles in the Rugby Championship and World Cup.

Beset by injury all year, Quade Cooper burst back onto the scene with a scintillating display for the Reds and will be contending with Foley for the five-eighth spot along with Matt Giteau and Matt Toomua.

At inside centre, Beale faces competition from Toomua and his Brumbies partner Christian Leali’ifano, Giteau and even blockbusting Reds newcomer Samu Kerevi.

“I think definitely at this time of the season … guys really want to be putting themselves in form and putting their hands up to be in the World Cup squad,” said Foley.

“That’s what all rugby players in Australia should be dreaming of, is being in the World Cup and participating.”

Rather than feel pressured, Foley welcomed the hot competition.

“I think it’s good that other players are really playing well and that competition should be driving everyone.

“At the end of the day, that should make it a stronger Australian team with the possibility of doing better than if there wasn’t that competition.”

The Waratahs and Brumbies are locked in a dogfight for the all-important top spot on the Australian conference, with its home ground advantage.

The two sides are equal on points, but NSW are ahead due to having one more win (though less bonus points).

Foley said being in South Africa had helped ease the pressure and the Waratahs were surprisingly “calm and relaxed”.

“Over here we are away from it all a little bit and we can just focus on the game at the weekend … and not be distracted by the other things,” he said.

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