Foley leaves Waratahs and Super Rugby, set to play in Japan
SYDNEY (AP) — New South Wales Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley will leave Super Rugby to “pursue overseas opportunities” and is expected to sign with a Japanese club.
Foley has previously played in Japan, featuring for the Ricoh Black Rams after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but he played just one season for the team. Australian media reported Friday that Foley is set to join Kubota Spears in Japan’s Top League, with a deal yet to be announced by the club.
The 29-year-old Foley will leave the Waratahs as their most-capped flyhalf with 119 matches and one of its top 10 overall, since making his Super Rugby debut in 2011 against Auckland.
“It’s not been an easy decision and one that took a great deal of thought, but to be moving on from the Waratahs is certainly a bittersweet feeling,” Foley said on the Waratahs’ website Friday.
Foley is in South Africa with the Wallabies as they prepare for their first Rugby Championship match next Saturday against South Africa in Johannesburg.
“The Waratahs gave me my first opportunity at professional rugby and I’ve grown so much as a player and a person during my time here, playing with some of the game’s greats and making friendships that will last a lifetime,” Foley said.
Meanwhile, Japanese club Kintetsu Liners, a second division side, confirmed it had signed Will Genia and Quade Cooper, who both played Super Rugby with the Melbourne Rebels this season. The trio of Foley, Genia, who is also in South Africa with the Wallabies, and Cooper have played 238 tests.
Foley is eligible to return to the Wallabies because he has reached the 60-test threshold required for overseas-based Australian players. Cooper has played 70 tests but was not named in Wallabies coach Michael Cheika’s Rugby Championship squad.
Genia, who has played 100 tests, announced his retirement from international rugby following the World Cup.
The 31-year-old scrumhalf became just the 10th Australian player to reached 100 tests when he ran out against England at Twickenham last year.
“When I had to make the decision, I felt the time was right for me,” Genia said in a statement issued Friday by Rugby Australia. “There’s a whole bunch of young Australian halfbacks that are very, very good.”
Genia was the 78th Wallaby to captain Australia, after skippering the side against the United States at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
He will get the chance for a hometown farewell on July 27 when the Wallabies take on Argentina in Brisbane in what will be his last game in the city.