Bernard Foley emphatically ended debate over who should wear the Wallabies’ No.10 jersey and etched his name into the record books with a stunning display to help knock hosts England out of the World Cup.
Foley had been under pressure to retain his spot from the enigmatic Quade Cooper, a brilliant option in attack who sparked Australia’s backline in the rout of Uruguay, and Matt Toomua.
Coach Michael Cheika stuck with NSW five-eighth Foley in the belief he would provide the steadier hand and more reliable goalkicking option in what was expected to be a tight game at Twickenham.
The 26-year-old delivered on those expectations in spades, stealing the spotlight with a flawless display in the 33-13 triumph.
“What we’re asking of both Bernard and Quade as our two No.10s is to take control of the game, especially in the tough moments,” Cheika said.
“And both of them are really growing in that regard.
“Bernard was very influential – I know he got a lot of points but also in the way he stood up to take responsibility.”
Foley’s outstanding evening ensured he set an Australian points record against England, bettering that of Matt Burke’s 22-point haul in the 76-0 thrashing in 1998.
It also eclipsed the 26 scored by All Blacks five-eighth Dan Carter as the most-ever accumulated by any player against England at Twickenham.
For the unfashionable Foley, this was a night of dreams.
He crossed for two first-half tries and knocked over both conversions and a penalty to have 17 points sewn up by the halftime break.
Three more penalties – and then an after-the-siren sideline conversion for good measure – carried him to his final tally of 28.
Foley deflected the praise to his teammates but admitted his performance was “up there definitely” with the finest of his 23-Test career.
“It is a bit of a dream come true,” he said.
Foley ripped the game wide open when he crossed twice in a five-minute period in the first half.
For the first, he found a gap between England’s Ben Youngs and Joe Launchbury before breaking through the defence of fullback Mike Brown to score.
Five minutes later, the Wallabies targeted the same two defenders with a clever set play – Foley turning the ball inside to Kurtley Beale who split the defence, drew the fullback and found Foley in support for his second.
“We designed a few set moves around the ten and that paid off,” Foley said.
“I have always tried to back my running game and my focus is to be a threat with the ball. “
Foley’s seven-from-seven return with the boot was just reward for his tireless work with kicking coach Chris Malone to eliminate the inconsistency from his game.
“It is pleasing when it comes off on a big stage,” he said.
“Tonight was a game where they were flying well.
“It all comes to practice and to get the job done off the back off a great team performance tonight was just so pleasing.”