Knowledge, passion and a huge presence
Moving in with Ireland, Foley has blown away by the attention to detail and the quality of the coaching. “Les [Kiss] is phenomenal. Just the way he thinks about the game. I heard before that every defensive coach thinks he’s a good attack coach, but the way he get his message and point across is excellent. In Gert and Greg [Feek] I think you’ve got the best in the world in their field, and that puts a lot of pressure on me, when you have this quality around. You’d like to think we can get something out of this campaign but, again, it’s all about the result on Sunday.”
Kidney has probably been Foley’s most profound influence. “He’s worked all the way through the grades, he’s worked hard on his trade, he’s his own man, he’s had his own experiences, and I’d say he eats, sleeps, breathes rugby, and it’s good, particularly for young Irish coaches, that he has time for them and makes them welcome if they want to come here.”
No less than the Irish coaches, Foley is out of contract with Munster at the end of the season and no dialogue has begun regarding his own future with Munster, Ireland or both. Such is the life, and he wouldn’t be averse some day to uprooting and coaching abroad, though even if he was working in the family business, Foley’s Mini Busses, he’d be coaching somewhere, be it Shannon and/or Ballina/Killaloe under-age sides.
England at the Aviva in the Six Nations is more pressurised air, and tomorrow’s game will help to define the immediate futures of coaches or would-be Lions players. But Thursday evening, most of the coaches’ work had been done. “It’s all about execution now, and being clinical and accurate.”
Ireland are buoyed by an impressive win away to the grand Slam champions, but Foley thought England impressive in beating New Zealand and in beating Scotland. “They’ve a lot of very good young players like [Tom] Youngs and [Joe] Launchbury. They’ve a very big back row; back to the good old traditional type of English team I would have won my first cap against, Ben Clarke, Tim Rodber and Dean Richards. Big, big men. And why not go back to your strengths?”
“We’ve a fair idea what’s going to happen. Can’t predict anything, but it’s going to be one hell of a battle. It’ll be a good game to watch, a good game to be at.”
And then he laughs, slightly wistfully. “It would be nice to be sitting in Molly’s [in Killaloe] watching it.”