Wallabies man of the moment Bernard Foley insists he wasn’t trying to deliberately waste time and has taken aim at All Blacks coach Ian Foster for a lack of sympathy after the heartbreaking Bledisloe Cup loss on Thursday.
New Zealand’s 39-37 triumph in Melbourne will be remembered for referee Mathieu Raynal’s unprecedented decision to give the All Blacks a free kick which they then converted into Jordie Barrett’s match-winning try.
Raynal could be heard urging Foley to kick for touch but the five-eighth insists he was merely trying to organise his teammates.
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“It was pretty chaotic,” Foley said on Between Two Posts, which will air on Stan Sport on Friday night.
“The ref was trying to speed the game up, we were just trying to get certainty about the call. There was a lot of change of personnel, it was loud, 55,000 people in there, roof closed so we were just trying to get clarity. There’s a process we go through when we’re kicking for touch so we were just going through that.
“My comms to the referee, he said ‘time’s off, can you hurry up and kick?’ There was no times of there was going to be a repercussion or that time was back on.
Watch the full Bernard Foley interview tonight with Sean Maloney, Andrew Mehrtens and Morgan Turinui on Between Two Posts on Stan Sport
“So it’s a shame because it was a great game, I was really impressed with the character that the team showed when we went down people and we got behind, to stay in the fight.
“That we’re talking about that is disappointing and still trying to digest it I suppose.”
Footage has emerged on social media highlighting Wallabies teammates – led by Lalakai Foketi – urging Foley to hurry up and kick for touch.
But the 33-year-old said he “wasn’t aware” of their cries.
“La (Foketi), speaking to him (afterwards), he was getting a read off the referee and was trying to impose there. But I was talking, trying to get the read with the forwards and go through the process. It’s hard to digest.”
Foley was asked what the team’s plan was as they tried to hold onto a slender lead in the dying minutes.
“Keep it tight and try and wind down the clock that way,” he replied.
“It wasn’t trying to get to the buzzer and not kick the ball. I had all intentions to get there and kick the ball and contest that set-piece.”
Foley said the Test was overall played in excellent spirits but was disappointed to read Foster’s comments criticising Australia’s game management.
“Dane Coles, I’ll get myself in trouble if I speak about him,” he quipped.
“But a few comments from Ian Foster – when you get away with one there should be a bit of empathy or sympathy and that’s probably the disappointing thing. Because had the shoe been on the other foot, it would have been interesting to see their reaction.”
Foley hoped the bizarre situation would end up being a one-off.
“It’s tough because you always feel you’re on the wrong end of it. You hope it doesn’t set a precedent. Let’s just hope it’s an anomaly, as much as that sucks, and we’ve just got to swallow the hard pill.”
Former Wallaby Morgan Turinui added that Raynal’s actions could open a can of worms.
“I have never ever seen that decision made, in a match of Test rugby, in my life. It’s a strange line in the sand from the referee,” Turinui said.
“This decision was ridiculous.”
The Wallabies now dust themselves off for a return match at Eden Park on September 24.
Foley appears a near certainty to start at No.10 again after a superb performance in his first Test in three years.
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