Australia 21-23 British & Irish Lions, Brisbane
Israul Folau shines on Wallabies debut
ESPN Staff
June 22, 2013

Is there anything Israel Folau can't do? Ok, best not to mention AFL. But the code-hopper silenced any remaining doubters about his rugby potential with his two-try heroics for the Wallabies in the first Tom Richards Cup Test against the British & Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday night.

Fast-tracked to Wallabies honours after just 14 Super Rugby games for New South Wales Waratahs, the jury was still out on Folau despite his obvious talent. Not that Giants fans could vouch much for him. But he looked as comfortable in his first Wallabies guernsey as he did in his five State of Origin games for Queensland or his 38 NRL matches for Brisbane Broncos based at Suncorp Stadium.

Lions coach Warren Gatland claimed Folau's match-up with George North would be "worth the fare" of Saturday night's series opener; he wasn't wrong. The AFL flop proved a huge rugby hit when he crossed in the 13th minute after Will Genia had sparked a superb 80-metre counter-attack by taking a quick tap and bamboozling the Lions' thin defence before grubber-kicking to the former league international.

No stranger to scoring points, Folau showed he could also save them when he redefined the term sleight of hand in the 34th minute. North levelled terms with Folau with a sensational 60-metre try then looked to have completed a brace only to be denied by the Wallabies winger's big mitt in the left corner before the Lions star's elbow landed on the sideline.

"He's got fast feet, a great offload. He's a talent. We need to utilise him more" Robbie Deans hails Israel Folau

Folau, Australia's 47th dual international, then looked one of a kind when he dusted Jonny Sexton and Alex Corbisiero to score his second try before half-time - icing a movement again sparked by Genia. Not a bad effort for a Waratahs fullback playing for Australia on the wing. But it is no surprise Folau that knows his way to the tryline in Brisbane, having scored 37 tries in 38 games from the wing for the Broncos during his two seasons with the NRL club.

Folau rated his Test experience bigger than rugby league's State of Origin. "To be honest it is on another level," he said. "It was a great atmosphere and something I had not experienced before." Folau is looking forward to round two with the Lions and also North. "He's a dangerous player, scored a great try so I will have to try and limit him next week."

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans almost ditched his poker face when asked about Folau's debut. "He's got confidence in his ability. He's got physical stature so he is not intimidated," the New Zealander said. "He's got fast feet, a great offload. He's a talent. We need to utilise him more."

The Wallabies suffered an horrendous injury toll (video available only in Australia)

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