Munster captain Peter O’Mahony is backing provincial pack-mate Dave Foley to hit the ground running when the uncapped lock goes into Ireland training camp today ahead of the November Tests.
Paul O’Connell and Devin Toner are Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt’s incumbent second row heading into the opening Guinness Series Test against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on November 8 but another impressive performance from Foley for Munster in the European Champions Cup win over Saracens on Friday night has confirmed O’Mahony’s view that the 26-year-old is ready to take the step up to international rugby, perhaps with a start against Georgia the following weekend.
“I think ‘Foles’ has been impressive for the last 12, 18 months. He’s really grown into things, I’d say he’s a world class lineout operator and he’s learning all the time around the pitch, just muscling up and putting in big performances and backing them up week in, week out, which is important.”
O’Mahony sees no issue with Foley settling in quickly to the Ireland training camp environment when Schmidt’s 37-player squad checks into their Carton House base today.
“Dave’s been up there a couple of times and he knows where it’s at.
“He drives standards here as well so I don’t think there’ll be any fear for him.”
Foley is one of 11 Munster players named by Schmidt last week in the squad that after playing the Springboks and Georgia will also face Australia at the Aviva on November 22 and there will be a spring in their step after a confidence-boosting 14-3 victory over European rivals Saracens at Thomond Park four days ago that sent the Reds top of Pool 1 after two rounds.
None more so than Foley, who was Munster’s go-to player in an outstanding lineout performance that disrupted Saracens and for the second week in a row provided the platform for victory.
Of Munster’s nine lineouts on Friday, Foley was the target for seven of them, including the pivotal set-piece that led to the only try of the game when Dave Kilcoyne touched down after a powerful rolling maul.
“He does his work, himself, Paulie, Billy Holland, Robin (Copeland), myself and it’s something we take a lot of pride in,” O’Mahony said of the Munster lineout. “Paulie and Billy and Foles take the responsibility on themselves and we know when it comes to those situations we’ve got to depend on each other to have the knowledge and the execution to do it.”
As for the lineout and drive that blew Sarries away for Kilcoyne’s second-half try, O’Mahony agreed hard work on the training ground had been key but added: “It’s down to analysis as well, I suppose. We knew the way they were going to defend the maul and at times when you do defend like that it kinds of works the momentum against themselves. I suppose that’s an insight into one of the dark arts.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved