The New South Wales Waratahs have been handed a huge boost ahead of Saturday’s clash with The British & Irish Lions in Sydney.
Halfback partners Matt Lucas and Bernard Foley have been given the all clear to face The Lions having initially been expected to be unavailable for selection.
Scrum-half Lucas and fly-half Foley are in the Australia squad for the Sevens World Cup in Moscow but ARU chief Bill Pulver has granted them special dispensation to feature at the Allianz Stadium in the tourists’ fourth game in Oz and their fifth in total.
Foley is now almost certain to start for the Tahs, with Lucas likely to feature from the bench.
The news has been understandably welcomed by Waratahs head coach Michael Cheika, especially as he has been hit by 10 Qantas Wallaby call ups and seven separate injuries in the lead up to what he hopes will be a sell-out fixture.
“Obviously I'd like to have our international players back but, in fairness, the CEO of the ARU (Bill Pulver) has stepped in and let us have Foley and Lucas back from the Sevens camp, so they'll be joining the team on Friday and available for selection,” said Cheika.
“That's fair play to him because he made the call and got us those players back, Foley in particular, who's central as our playmaker.
“That's good that we have that bit of extra zip and he's got a bit of X factor as well.
“I think it's important for Foley. He was desperate to play, as is Lucas, so it’s a real opportunity to put your name on the map.
“I'm really glad that Mr Pulver stepped in and made the decision because it's very, very positive for the two lads in terms of their development, and as well as that, there's going to be a packed house.”
Foley has started at fly-half in every single of one the Tahs’ 15 Super Rugby games so far this term, while Lucas has also been involved in the matchday 23 on each occasion.