Folau craves more ball at fullback
September 17, 2013
Israel Folau in working on becoming more involved in the Wallabies' attack © Getty Images
Fullback Israel Folau admits he is not seeing enough ball to be at his damaging best for the Wallabies, but says he is working hard to make sure he does. Folau has flourished at No.15 since making the switch from the wing for this month's Rugby Championship clash with South Africa at Suncorp Stadium.
The code-hopping star scored the Wallabies' only try in Saturday's 14-13 win over Argentina in Perth, busting through a trio of defenders to help break their four-match losing run. While Folau said being at fullback plays to his strengths, he doesn't believe he is getting his hands on the ball enough to make his mark in attack.
"I'd like to get my hands on the ball a little bit more," Folau said. "That's something I need to work on - not just for myself but with the players around me as well. I've got to find ways to try and get the ball in my hands. It's not just for me, but for us as a team. We've got to work together as a team."
But New South Wales Waratahs coach Michael Cheika disagrees, saying Folau's Wallabies team-mates are doing as much as they can.
"He looks like he's the most dominant player out there at this stage," Cheika said. "You can't run over to him and say 'here you go mate, here's the ball' and run away. I don't believe that you need to force anything, it just happens. And eventually it'll start clicking, where he'll be getting the ball more and they'll be clicking more as an outfit. I just don't think you can orchestrate that. You've just got to play it naturally and see how it pans out."
While Folau is almost certain to hang onto the Wallabies' custodian role, it could be a different story at the Waratahs next Super Rugby season. News Corp Australia on Monday reported that Cheika was looking to move Folau to outside centre, with new recruit Kurtley Beale to fill his No.15 spot.
"I'm very excited and open-minded about obviously trying my hand in playing outside centre," he said of the possible switch. "I think with the squad that we have next year it's going to be exciting. We've got a lot of depth in the backline. Certainly over the pre-season, I'm looking forward to having a crack and see how it goes."
Cheika was quick to laugh off claims he'd already decided on a 2014 line-up.
"My players complain about the fact that I pick a team on a Thursday or a Friday before a game - so I can't imagine I'm going to be picking any teams in September for February or March," he said. "We'll again evolve his (Folau's) role next year. It'll pretty much be based on some of the guys we'll have around him as he'll probably be playing in a different configuration of players. We'll just plan it out, see how he goes in the pre-season and work out where and what he'll do from there."