Support for Foley, Hanigan out for Tahs

Adrian Warren
A knee injury will keep NSW forward Ned Hanigan out of the Waratahs team for at least a fortnight

NSW Waratahs goalkicker Bernard Foley has received a strong endorsement after a couple of costly misses in Saturday night's heartbreaking Super Rugby loss to the Crusaders.

Wallabies five-eighth Foley missed a late potential game-winning 40-metre penalty goal attempt and and an easier chance earlier in the half, as the Waratahs lost by two points after leading by 29.

NSW also suffered physical blows from that game with four forwards battling to be fit for Saturday's home clash with the Highlanders.

Wallabies lock-flanker Ned Hanigan will miss at least two games with a medial ligament knee injury, lock Rob Simmons has a shoulder issue and hooker Damien Fitzgerald and flanker Will Miller each copped a head knock.

Waratahs attack coach Chris Malone is hopeful all bar Hanigan could be fit to face the Highlanders, although the extent of Simmons' issue is not yet known.

Malone came out strongly in support of Foley when asked if he had any concerns about the pivot's goalkicking or if they might occasionally consider using centre Kurtley Beale.

Foley had the competition's second-best success rate of 87 per cent prior to last weekend.

"I was a goalkicker myself and I know you'll sometimes have an off day," Malone said.

"Obviously there were a couple of big kicks in that game that potentially could have won the game for us and Bernard himself was really disappointed in that.

"But we'll go away and work on the things that he didn't do quite so well on a couple of those kicks on the weekend.

"He's been kicking really well, so any time there's an option for us to take a shot at goal, it will definitely be Bernard Foley.

"I've been his kicking coach now for a number of years and he's shown us in big games that he's got the mental capacity to nail them."

The Waratahs have retained the Australian conference lead going into the third of a brutal block of four successive games against New Zealand sides, but have the Melbourne Rebels breathing down their necks just one point behind.

Malone said the Tahs weren't shying way from the fact they had lost three straight games and there was "good steel in the team".

"A lot of the commentary afterwards was about us letting such a good lead slip, but one thing I would say was in order to put ourselves in that position, there was some of the best footy that we played in a long time," he said.