Australian rugby
Israel Folau can be 'absolute legend'
ESPN Staff
May 2, 2013
Robbie Deans expects a brutal series against the British & Irish Lions

Israel Folau will become "an absolute legend of the game" if he rejects big-money offers from NRL clubs and commits to rugby union long term, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says.

The rugby league international has been a revelation in his first nine Super Rugby outings for New South Wales Waratahs after abandoning his AFL experiment after two seasons, but Deans was coy when asked about Folau's selection prospects for the three-Test series against the British & Irish Lions.

"The last couple of outings he's shown elements that we'd love to have in our group," Deans said on Wednesday. "We've got a selectors' meeting ... and those are conversations we'll be having ... we'll have to make some decisions and we'll start with obviously the group that is going to run out and then we'll look at what we'll do in terms of off the bench. But, yes, Israel does some things that no one else can do. How many games has he had now - 10 or so? It's remarkable what he can do for a bloke who's playing his 10th game of rugby. Whatever happens, let's hope he sticks around because he could be an absolute legend of the game if he does."

No surprises in the British & Irish Lions squad, Robbie Deans says

Folau's contract with the Australian Rugby Union ends in November. Asked what lengths the union would go to in order to secure Folau's services long term, Deans replied: "We'd love to keep him, but he's got choice.

"He could do whatever he wants so it'll come down to what he wants to do. But the game does offer him the opportunity to do all the things he's good at, and a lot of variety both on and off the field. Hopefully he's enjoying that and wants to pursue it. I hope he's enjoying the point of difference that union offers him. This will be his first experience in Africa and having the opportunity to see the world. And while he does what he enjoys, hopefully he'll cherish and seek more of it."

Israel Folau starred for the Waratahs against the Bulls (video available only in Australia)
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