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Door open for axed Elsom at new-look Tahs

By Nick Perry 19/08/2011 05:08:39 PM Comments (0)

Dumped Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom could be headed back to the NSW Waratahs after Michael Foley was announced as head coach of the Super Rugby team on Friday.

Former assistant Foley takes over from Chris Hickey, who didn't seek reappointment after guiding the Waratahs to the play-offs in the last two of his three years but didn't win a play-off match.

Hickey had previously said the Waratahs weren't interested in signing Elsom, who is off contract with the Brumbies and not sought by the other Super Rugby franchises.

But Foley, who made no secret of his plans to shake things up at the Waratahs, was clearly keen on the backrower who lost the Wallabies' captaincy to James Horwill this week.

"We'll definitely be looking at Rocky as an option," said Foley.

"We still have a couple of spots with the squad, one of them is a backrower, and one of them is a back.

"We will be looking to try and get the best possible person in each."

Foley also gave a clear indication he intends to boost the NSW Waratahs' attack after a season in which they were booed at times by their own supporters.

"It is very very important to us as a team that we play a type of footy that our fans want to come and watch," Foley said.

"Mums and Dads of rugby, we want to have them look at us and say `Let's take the kids to the footy'."

Key to that is the return of current Ireland backs coach Alan Gaffney as his senior assistant after a successful career in Europe.

Coincidentally, Gaffney has been associated with Elsom both as Wallabies assistant coach under Eddie Jones and through his links with Leinster, where Elsom played after leaving the Waratahs in 2008.

Foley said Gaffney's appointment was a "significant statement" about the new direction he planned to steer the Waratahs in 2012.

"Consistency of skill execution for us a is a big thing, hence Alan's appointment," Foley said.

"Alan will bring even more expertise and a certain wisdom that will add to our whole program.

"I don't wish to overstate the point (that) bringing Alan in is an exciting thing for us."

Foley acknowledged the expectation to deliver a long-sought first Super Rugby title for the Waratahs, who have long promised much with strong squads but failed to claim the ultimate prize.

"There's no getting away from the fact that winning a title is what we want to do," Foley said.

"We've got the types of blokes and the type of players we can do that with."

He said he would look no further than former Waratahs-turned-Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie for a source of inspiration.

McKenzie turned the Reds from cellar dwellers to last season's champions in just two years.

"Ewen's success, and the Reds' whole success, gives everybody that clear understanding that it's possible.

"I think there's a generation of players that haven't won a major title.

"I think the Reds sit up there as a real inspiration."

It's the first head-coaching job for Foley, a member of the 1999 World Cup-winning Wallabies following a long career as an assistant, first with English club Bath (2001-2006), the Wallabies (2006-2008) and then the Waratahs.

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