Super Rugby reaction
Israel Folau answers Tahs' prayers on the wing
March 2, 2013
Israel Folau was more "efficient in the tight", Michael Cheika said © Getty Images
New South Wales Waratahs coach Michael Cheika praised Israel Folau for his versatility after switching the player from fullback to wing in the second half of the 31-26 Super Rugby win over Melbourne Rebels.
Cheika said that Folau had been down after his underwhelming debut in the loss to Queensland, and he was pleased to see the recruit bounce back against the Rebels.
The Waratahs trailed the Rebels 16-6 at half-time, and Cheika made an early substitution; Ben Volavola replaced winger Tom Kingston, causing a backline reshuffle. Folau took Kingston's place on the right wing, and Volavola went to fullback. The decision could prove to be a masterstroke from Cheika, and the key to getting the best out of Folau and the Waratahs' attack. Volavola, a fullback with the Southern Districts club, was fantastic chiming into the backline while Folau looked the part on the wing.
"I think in the tighter quarters he was a lot more efficient," Cheika said of Israel Folau. "He had to switch positions in the second half and he got a few good touches there down that wing. I was actually quite pleased because he was a bit down on himself after last week, and he certainly got his preparation really good and was able to adapt to playing fullback and the wing."
Folau played a key role in the Waratahs' first try, scored by five-eighth Bernard Foley in the 58th minute. The former Queensland rugby league star drew a couple of defenders before passing to Kane Douglas, who popped the ball to Foley, who scored the converted try that levelled the game before the Waratahs went on with the job with two more tries.
The Waratahs produced another stirring comeback, but this time, against the Rebels, they achieved victory