Foley passionate about the scrum Underline 02 August, 2011
Flying Fijians scrum coach Michael Foley stresses a point to prop Deacon Manu. 
Listening to former Wallaby hooker Michael Foley talk it’s easy to get a feel of the passion he has for the scrum. Of course you’d expect nothing less from a person who is one of his country’s most capped rugby forwards with 50 caps earned between 1995 and 2001. 

“From a forwards point of view the scrum is the one opportunity in the game where you actually put your arms around your mates and you take on the other forward pack and I think that mentality and the spirit involved in applying the skill is crucial,” Foley says. 

“The real important thing in scrummaging is that the eight guys try and do the same thing at the same time so that you’re maximizing the efforts of everybody.” 

Foley is the Flying Fijians newest staff member, albeit on a part-time basis, and was the person widely accredited with fixing the Wallaby scrum back when it needed fixing – which was shortly after he retired as a player in 2001. 

He’s now lending his considerable talents to the job of fixing Fiji’s scrum but, unlike many commentators, the 1999 Rugby World Cup winner is of the view it’s not so much a fix but more of a tweak that is required, particularly after witnessing Fiji’s efforts against the All Blacks last month.

“You know when you look at the pressure that Fiji was able to exert on New Zealand’s ball early in the game that’s something the boys should take a great deal of confidence out of, and if we can translate that through the 80 minutes we’re going to be a potent scrum.” Foley said. 

While Flying Fijians captain Deacon Manu has strengthened Fiji’s tight head side, it’s now the loose head side that seems to be causing Fiji grief, however Foley believes all is not quite as it seems. 

“The trend in refereeing is to focus more heavily on the loose head as he’s more visible when the two packs come together and that means it’s not about looking for the referee to help us it’s about taking control of that situation ourselves.” 

Fiji’s loose head prop against the All Blacks was Campese Maafu who in days following the All Blacks game was criticized for his performance. Foley however believes the criticism was unfair. 

”I think Campese certainly showed in a number of scrums that he had the capacity to take his man on as part of the whole unit and do a good job. I think there were times there when the scrummaging around Campese at times could have been a little bit better but as I said there were some very pleasing signs out of that game, particularly as New Zealand are probably the world leaders in scrummaging.” 

Foley ends his first stint with the team this week, but will be in regular attendance with the Flying Fijians over the coming weeks and into the Rugby World Cup.
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