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Waratahs' Foley in doubt for Crusaders

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/03/2017 Darren Walton
Bernard Foley in action during the Waratahs Super Rugby training session at Kippax Lake on March 15, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. © Getty Images Bernard Foley in action during the Waratahs Super Rugby training session at Kippax Lake on March 15, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.

The NSW Waratahs are placing no time frame on Bernard Foley's return as the Wallabies star deals with another worrying setback.

In a major concern also for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, Foley is in extreme doubt for the Waratahs' Sunday showdown with Super Rugby table toppers the Crusaders after experiencing further post-concussion symptoms.

In his first game since copping a head knock in a pre-season trial last month, Foley starred in NSW's thrilling 32-25 comeback win over the Melbourne Rebels last Saturday night.

But his heroic display, including a series of fearless body-on-the-line tackles, may have come at a cost.

The Waratahs say he's since experienced one of 22 possible symptoms - sensitivity to light - and won't be risked again until he's 100 per cent right.

"Bernard's welfare is our priority right now and our medical team are taking an active treatment process to manage his symptoms," Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said on Tuesday.

"We will follow the medical advice and he will undergo further testing and treatment prior to any decisions being made about him returning to playing."

Assistant coach Chris Malone said the Waratahs were preparing for life without Foley indefinitely.

"We have to just ensure that he's looked after," Malone said.

"There's enough scary articles and different things out there and productions and film around concussion and it's an issue today that it didn't used to be.

"Therefore, from a coaching perspective, it's (only) a game at the end of the day. It's not worth risking the rest of someone's life for a game."

Despite almost certainly missing their influential playmaker, the Waratahs remain upbeat about ending the Crusaders' unbeaten start to 2017.

But it shapes as a monumental task, with Foley easily NSW's best in Melbourne.

The Waratahs tried several different midfield combinations on Tuesday, with young gun David Horwitz looming as the early favourite to fill Foley's No.10 jumper.

Horwitz ran inside Irae Simone, who missed the Rebels game win with a knee injury but is available again.

He (Horwitz) played well last week. He stepped up into first receiver a lot, probably touched the ball more times than Bernard did," Malone said.

"Good growth from Dave and he's really come along in terms of being in the squad.

"Then there's Bryce (Hegarty), there's Irae Simone that can come back into the team.

"There's also Mack Mason and Andrew Deegan, a couple of younger guys, No.10s.

"We've just to figure out what's our best configuration, what's going to make the team tick the best because obviously importantly this week we want a big team performance against the Crusaders."

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