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Bernard Foley: Ben Smith is the world's best fullback

By Online Editors

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Waratahs five-eighth Bernard Foley has hailed Ben Smith as the best fullback in the world ahead of his side’s clash with the Highlanders on Saturday.

Foley is wary of Smith’s counter-attacking presence and stressed that accurate kicking would be a must for his side to have a shot against the New Zealand side.

“They’re a high-kicking team and they love to play off unstructured possession, off turnovers, so if we’re guilty there, if we kick poorly to them, they’re a team that really likes to counter,” Foley said.

“They’ve got a really dangerous back three, they’ve got probably the world’s best fullback and then [Waisake] Naholo is pretty dangerous on the wing as well.”

Foley’s star teammate Israel Folau will be looking to justify his case as the world’s best No. 15 when he meets Smith for the first time this season.

Smith’s counter-attacking chances will be dictated by Foley, who has been scrutinized for his up-and-down form this season.

“I don’t need that external pressure or motivation to lift me,” Foley said.

“There are enough guys around me who drive me and inspire me to be the best player I can be, so that’s how I try to approach every day, go out there and get the most out of it and be the best player I can be.

“Hopefully that improves my standard.

“The thing about the form, that’s on an individual basis but that’s not what I judge myself on. I’m mainly [judging myself] on how the team is going and what I can do to help this team and get the outcomes we want.”

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Two missed penalties ultimately cost the Waratahs a historic victory last weekend as they fell victim to a 29-point Crusaders comeback – the greatest in Super Rugby history.

But Foley is confident that his goalkicking resume speaks for itself, after famously sinking the Crusaders in the 2014 Super Rugby final and beating Scotland in the 2015 World Cup quarterfinal with game-winning kicks.

“What do the fans remember more? Probably the ones you kick,” Foley said.

“As a kicker I suppose it’s the journey we go on in professional sport, the highs and the lows. It’s that rollercoaster that we’re forever living in between.

“When you miss those kicks, it definitely hurts and you feel the added weight, but in saying that, with the respect of the team I know they’re going to do the job so they have all the faith in me.

“I have kicked well in games or stretches, but that’s something I want to do throughout the whole season, not kick well for five games then have a shocker and drop the percentage.”

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