Bernard Foley and Waratahs part ways

Waratahs fly-half Bernard Foley is the latest Test player to confirm his Australian departure, after announcing on Friday that 2019 was his last in Super Rugby.

The Waratahs said only that Foley was leaving to “pursue overseas opportunities” but it appears most likely that the playmaker will be heading to Japan.

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.

The 29-year-old will leave the Waratahs as its most-capped fly-half and one of its top 10 overall, since making his Super Rugby debut back 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 told the Waratahs’ website.

“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.

“It’s been a privilege to represent this great state and my family and friends. I’d like to thank the coaches who have supported me and the teammates I’ve played with over the years.

“Our fans have been exceptional during my time here and I’d like to thank them for their support, I look forward to cheering on the boys with them well into the future.

“I’ve loved every minute of my time here, but I’ve got a new challenge in front of me and I’m looking forward to that as well.”

Foley’s departure follows that of fellow capped Wallabies Curtis Rona, Nick Phipps and Sekope Kepu from the Waratahs while big names Adam Ashley-Cooper, Karmichael Hunt and Kurtley Beale are yet to declare their plans.

His move opens the door for rookie fly-half Mack Mason to step up after having limited minutes in recent seasons.

New South Wales Rugby Union’s general manager of rugby Tim Rapp paid tribute to Foley for his contribution to the team.

“Bernard has been an important part of the Waratahs for the best part of a decade,” he said.

“He’s been a consistent performer at the highest level for a long period, and ultimately his numbers speak for themselves – he’s achieved a lot of great things for the Waratahs and we certainly appreciate that.

“The quality of his character and the value he adds to a team environment will certainly be missed, he’s a great guy who is well-liked and respected right across NSW Rugby.

“We’re obviously disappointed to see him go but it’s a competitive marketplace, particularly at the end of a World Cup cycle. Everyone at NSW Rugby wishes Bernard all the best at both the World Cup and in the next chapter in his career.”

Foley is currently in South Africa with the Wallabies ahead of their first Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Johannesburg.