As Bernard Foley prepares to take on the Welsh five-eighth who toppled England seven days before he did, his Wallaby teammates have backed the unheralded star to produce a repeat performance of his Twickenham stunner.
Foley was thrust into the spotlight with his 28-point breakout game in last weekend’s victory over England, which banished the hosts from their own tournament.
It bettered the 23 points banked by Wales playmaker Dan Biggar in their stunning upset of England a week earlier.
The two are set to go head-to-head at Twickenham, with the goal-kicking shootout to be crucial in deciding the high-stakes contest.
Wallabies defensive coach Nathan Grey has gently reminded his team to be extra disciplined this weekend, for fear of Biggar’s laser-like right boot piling on the points.
“The way he has controlled the Wales games, he has been outstanding and his goal-kicking speaks for itself,” said Foley.
But Wales know full-well what Foley is capable of, having watched him bury them with an 18-point haul as man of the match in last year’s 33-28 victory in Cardiff.
“He’s a real threat at the moment,” Wales coach Warren Gatland said of Foley, who kicked seven from seven against England.
“His relationship with (halfback Will) Genia has developed.
“(He’s) a player we’re conscious will pose us problems. We will look to shut him down as much as we can, try to pressure him.
“He brings players in often and is a real threat.
“His goal-kicking has been pretty good too.”
There is belief amongst the Australians too that Foley is can continue his hot form.
Veteran centre Matt Giteau said the 26-year-old was relishing the challenge being presented by Biggar and Wales.
Last year, Giteau watched from the sidelines and provided expert commentary for TV as Foley orchestrated a win that extended the Wallabies’ streak to 10 over Wales.
“They know what he’s capable of,” Giteau said.
“It’s going to be a big test for him against Biggar who I think has been a really big player so far in the tournament.
“He’s played some great football, not just in attack – defensively he’s quite solid as well.
“That will be another big test for Nard (Foley).”
Giteau, meanwhile, is also bracing for a tough outing against a monster Welsh midfield of Jamie Roberts and George North, the power-running winger who has been shifted infield to get him more involved.
The 110kg Roberts will line up at inside centre, opposite Giteau, in another anticipated energy-sapping clash for the 98-Test Wallaby.
“With the centre combination they’ve picked, they use Roberts for their go-forward,” Giteau said.
“They’ve brought North in to get a little bit more ball, he probably hasn’t seen as much as he would’ve liked in their first few games and he’s obliviously a dangerous runner.
“They obviously see it as an effective weapon against Australia.”
Australia: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, David Pocock, Sean McMahon, Scott Fardy, Dean Mumm, Kane Douglas, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (capt), Scott Sio.
Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Greg Holmes, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua, Kurtley Beale.
Wales: Gareth Anscombe; Alex Cuthbert, George North, Jamie Roberts, Liam Williams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton (capt); Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris; Samson Lee, Scott Baldwin, Paul James.
Reserves: Ken Owens, Aaron Jarvis, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Ross Moriarty, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland, James Hook.