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Folau’s rugby education to evolve

By Adrian Warren,

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    Israel Folau’s rugby union learning curve is likely to get steeper on Saturday when he plays his first match against a New Zealand Super Rugby franchise.

    Folau, who impressed with a two-try rugby debut against Melbourne in Hobart last week, has been named in a 28-man NSW Waratahs squad to face the Blues in Whangarei.

    The Blues invariably play a free-flowing style which could test the defensive capabilities of rugby rookie Folau, who played at fullback, outside centre and wing against the Rebels.

    Dangerous All Blacks back Rene Ranger is among the players listed to line up for the Blues.

    Former NRL and AFL player Folau is also likely to be subjected to more pressure from within his own ranks this week, with Wallabies wingers Drew Mitchell and Lachie Turner each having their first hit-out of the year.

    Along with Folau they are all candidates for places in the Waratahs back three.

    Both Turner and Mitchell will be especially keen to do well in the early weeks of the year after each missed a substantial chunk of the 2012 campaign due to injury.

    Other Wallabies listed for their first run of 2013 with NSW are openside flanker and prize recruit Michael Hooper, prop Paddy Ryan and lock Kane Douglas.

    Test centre Rob Horne, who some pundits believe could be squeezed out of the run-on side by Folau’s arrival, has been named for a second straight week.

    If Folau starts the Super season at fullback, with Turner and Mitchell on the wings, valued utility Adam Ashley-Cooper could displace Horne from the No.13 jersey.

    New Waratahs coach Michael Cheika is also likely to use Saturday’s trial to look at his inside back options.

    Wallabies utility back Berrick Barnes is expected to miss next week’s final trial against the Crusaders with a knee injury he suffered earlier this week.

    Exciting youngster Bernard Foley, who has been named vice-captain for Saturday’s game behind halfback Brendan McKibbin, finished the 2012 Super season at five-eighth with Barnes at inside centre.

    Reliable veteran Tom Carter is a proven performer at inside centre.

    Saturday’s game will give Cheika another chance to assess the merits of several uncontracted players from Sydney clubs, who impressed against Melbourne.

    Among them is Whangarei-born prop Dane Maraki.

    One player unavailable is lock Ollie Atkins, who was suspended for one week after being found guilty of tackling Melbourne’s Luke Jones in the air in open play.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • February 9th 2013 @ 9:10am
      Red Block said | February 9th 2013 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Tom Carter a proven performer! Wasn’t he dropped last year? I’m surprised he is still in the squad.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/the-roar/id327174726?mt=8].

      • February 9th 2013 @ 9:51am
        Atawhai Drive said | February 9th 2013 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        When armchair selectors name their Wallabies, almost every Super Rugby back in Australia gets at least one mention. Tom Carter is a notable exception.

        Waratahs attack coach Daryl Gibson has been quoted this morning as wanting to move Rob Horne into No 12, so Carter might struggle for game time this year.

        Gibson also said to be impressing on players the importance of perfecting position-specific skills. I hope that means he wants backline players to find a position and stay there.

        Berrick Barnes to miss opening rounds of 2013 season. Foley will step up but let’s hope he doesn’t get injured too.

        • Roar Guru

          February 9th 2013 @ 3:51pm
          jeznez said | February 9th 2013 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

          I like the Horne at 12 idea, particularly if Barnes is missing footy. I don’t think Horne can’t pass he just suffers a bit from white line fever, put into more of a playmaking role I think he has the temperament to be a less selfish player.

          Robinson
          Polota-Nau
          Ryan
          Douglas
          Timani
          Dennis
          Hooper
          Palu
          Hart
          Foley
          Mitchell
          Horne
          Ashley-Cooper
          Kingston
          Folau

          Ulugia
          Kepu
          Timani
          McCutcheon
          McKibbin
          Volavola
          Turner

          Would be a reasonable outfit if Barnes is out. Perhaps Carter for Volavola and Chapman for McCutcheon but I’d be pretty happy to see that side.

          • February 9th 2013 @ 4:06pm
            nickoldschool said | February 9th 2013 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

            That’s a pretty decent team. Am still worried about our 9-10 combination and I think if/when BB returns he will have a go at ten IMO.

            Makes you realise there is a nice group of 22-25 players. Haven’t been won by Kingston yet tbh. Would start Turner before him.

            • Roar Guru

              February 9th 2013 @ 4:18pm
              jeznez said | February 9th 2013 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

              If he is back to his best then Turner for sure. Haven’t seen his best since his debut when he scorched the Crusaders.

              Coined the term turning on the ‘after-Turners’ that day would to see a few more performances from him like that debut.

              • February 9th 2013 @ 7:09pm
                Blinky Bill of Bellingen said | February 9th 2013 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

                Rob Horne to 12 is an interesting idea.

                I’m wondering if he played there for Uni at some stage. If so did how did he go and did anyone outside him get any ball?

              • Roar Guru

                February 9th 2013 @ 7:48pm
                jeznez said | February 9th 2013 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

                Horne is a Southo’s lad not Uni. Not sure about club footy but have read he was a twelve all through his school days until he got to the Tahs

              • February 10th 2013 @ 10:49am
                Blinky Bill of Bellingen said | February 10th 2013 @ 10:49am | ! Report

                Cheers jeznez – I was sure I’d spotted him playing for Uni in the Shute on the ABC. Actually I was so damn sure that I’ve just now done a search & you’ll be pleased to know that you my friend are 100% right. 😉

                But I digress. I’m liking the coaches looking at their options and seeing if a bloke’s skill set is better for the team in another pozzie. Provided of course that it doesn’t start some damn merry go round.

                Horne at 12 & AAC at 13. Could that work?

              • February 10th 2013 @ 11:12am
                batman said | February 10th 2013 @ 11:12am | ! Report

                Horne first started at the tahs as a straight running in side centre

                these days the centres need a lot of skill sets not just second play maker. The 12 and 13 for that matter need to be able to make metres, they need pace to beat a man on the outside, they need to be great front on and slide defenders, and they need an off load game. Throw in the ability to be a dominant force at the breakdown and you are looking at the most important positions on the field IMHO.

                the best option for the tahs is to have Horne and AAC in the centres. don’t care who actually wheres the 12 or the 13… these days they are almost one and the same positions. Long term folau for mine looks like a natural centre as well.

              • February 10th 2013 @ 12:38pm
                Justin2 said | February 10th 2013 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

                I agree with a lot of what you have written batman. The major hindrance both those guys have is an ability to pass when required and or offload. They play league in effect, running til they get tackled far too often.

          • February 9th 2013 @ 11:28pm
            winediamond said | February 9th 2013 @ 11:28pm | ! Report

            JN
            Big call Folau at 15. A safer direction is 11, or 14. Hope i’m wrong & he owns the 15 sooner than later. McCutcheon is unconvincing. Surely we could get more hunger, & grunt from AJ. Gilbert, or hitting power from Chapman ??. Horne at 12 ?? Well Daryll Gibson seems determined to try, so we’ll see…

            • Roar Guru

              February 10th 2013 @ 12:08am
              jeznez said | February 10th 2013 @ 12:08am | ! Report

              Gilbert isn’t part of the official squad so could only be used as injury cover. Chapman is definitely an option.

              • February 10th 2013 @ 2:42am
                winediamond said | February 10th 2013 @ 2:42am | ! Report

                JN
                A technicality surely ??. Maybe Cheika can through his weight around ….? Is Palmer definitive off to France ???

              • Roar Guru

                February 10th 2013 @ 3:01am
                jeznez said | February 10th 2013 @ 3:01am | ! Report

                Yeah he is. Grenoble on a one year contract for 2014 and an option to extend to 2015, although he has indicated a desire to return for 2015

              • February 10th 2013 @ 2:14pm
                winediamond said | February 10th 2013 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                JN
                Grenoble eh!!. Shame. Still you can’t blame him for wanting the lucre…

          • February 9th 2013 @ 11:55pm
            Hightackle said | February 9th 2013 @ 11:55pm | ! Report

            Bit harsh benching Kepu.

            • Roar Guru

              February 10th 2013 @ 12:06am
              jeznez said | February 10th 2013 @ 12:06am | ! Report

              Just think Ryan is the superior scrummage. Doubt Cheika will agree at least it the start of the season.

              • February 10th 2013 @ 12:39am
                Hightackle said | February 10th 2013 @ 12:39am | ! Report

                I wonder why Australia rarely has a powerful dominant scrum.
                Is it a culture thing?
                I hope Ryan adds a bit of reliability to the Wallabies scrum.

              • Roar Guru

                February 10th 2013 @ 2:10am
                jeznez said | February 10th 2013 @ 2:10am | ! Report

                We were fine when you look at our two World Cup wins. Eddie Jones gave up on scrummaging preferring mobility. Is an issue down to club level but the focus is changing again with the likes of Palmer in favour – just a shame he is off to France.

    • February 9th 2013 @ 10:52am
      Billy Bob said | February 9th 2013 @ 10:52am | ! Report

      Players get injured. That’s the truth. We just need enough ‘A-listers’ to make up 22. And an integrated team culture that works no matter who is in the 15.
      Waratahs have some choice in the backs.
      I suspect that one of two things will happen this year. Either we have loads of injuries again, limiting our competence and spirit at super and wallaby level. Or our depth and team culture outlasts our injuries.

    • February 9th 2013 @ 4:00pm
      nickoldschool said | February 9th 2013 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

      really rate Turner and if he is back to his best he should get the 15 jersey at the start of the season IMO. I think he is the only one who has the speed to launch counter attacks from his 22, plus he would have a better defence positioning that a novice like Folau.

      Surprised Cheika doesnt give Folau a go at centre yet. Toulon groomed SBW at 12 and he excelled in this position pretty quickly
      so why not Izzy? Maybe more at 13.

      • February 9th 2013 @ 4:19pm
        Hightackle said | February 9th 2013 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

        In the article is states that Izzy had a run at centre and SBW started on the wing in Toulon didnt he?

        • February 9th 2013 @ 4:30pm
          nickoldschool said | February 9th 2013 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

          I think he just played a few minutes at centre though and what I have read from cheika so far was that he sees Folau in his back three, not really in the centres.

          From the moment he was hired at Toulon, they saw him as a centre. So yes he might have played wing at the very beginning but it was just to familiarise him with the game. They saw a 12 in him from the start (mind you they also saw willie mason as a twelve so yes recruiters do make mistakes sometimes!)

          • February 9th 2013 @ 7:22pm
            Hightackle said | February 9th 2013 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

            Nick why is it that the French top 14 has a salary cap and yet Toulon, Toulouse and a couple of other clubs seem to get more big names than others? Are there only a few clubs that can afford the cap and if so its obviously too high and defeats the purpose of having one.

            • February 9th 2013 @ 8:23pm
              nickoldschool said | February 9th 2013 @ 8:23pm | ! Report

              i read a while ago that the salary cap in the top 14 was now around 9-10m euros (aud 12M, to be confirmed) and that only the top clubs had reached it (Toulouse, Clermont, Toulon, Racing Metro and maybe Bayonne and Biarritz). So yes, all the other clubs just dont have the means to afford the cap.

              I dont think they created a cap to ‘even up’ the championship. I think they just wanted to limit the gap between the big ones and the small ones, as clubs like Toulouse or Toulon have near no limits, and still ensure our clubs would be competitive in the HC, hence a fairly generous cap. Tbh, i think the salary cap thing isnt in french culture and has been copied from the anglos but you’re right, its not really serving any purpose in france except that the big ones do have a limit. (at least its the wa i understand it)

              Rugby being first and foremost a ‘country’ sport in France, we have always had big ones (Toulouse, Clermont-Ferrand and a few others) and small ones (even 5000ppl villages before professionalism) playing each other. Its less true now but you still have small towns like Castres, Agen, Mont de Marsan or even Bayonne and Biarritz which are all around 50000 or less. Some of them have private investors behind them (Pharma comp Pierre Fabre for castres, Afflelou -glasses- for bayonne..) but for the others, they are just not playing in the same league and will never be able to afford the cap. i guess they will slowly disappear like the others before.

              • February 9th 2013 @ 11:48pm
                Hightackle said | February 9th 2013 @ 11:48pm | ! Report

                There is gonna be some rich tightheads and #10s out there.

      • Roar Guru

        February 9th 2013 @ 4:20pm
        jeznez said | February 9th 2013 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

        Second trial this weekend. Very possible that Folau gets a crack at 13 as Cheika has said he wants to focus on the midfield in this match.

        • February 9th 2013 @ 4:42pm
          Atawhai Drive said | February 9th 2013 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

          Folau got a try in Whangarei this afternoon after coming on in second half. Not sure which position he occupied.

          One report said he looked very much like a work in progress_ stating the obvious.

          • February 9th 2013 @ 4:48pm
            nickoldschool said | February 9th 2013 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

            Blues won 40-36. Blues website says Folau had a good game, played the 2nd half, scored and “set up wing Tom Kingston for a brace of tries.”. Didnt say where though. Hooper gets a mention too.

            • February 9th 2013 @ 7:12pm
              Blinky Bill of Bellingen said | February 9th 2013 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

              40-36?!?

              I know, I know, it’s only a trial. But still damn! 🙁

    • February 10th 2013 @ 7:03am
      kingplaymaker said | February 10th 2013 @ 7:03am | ! Report

      Genia, Cooper, Tomane, Ioane, Folau, JOC, Beale, or the same players in some other combination. Bench: Burgess, Lealiifano, a.n.other back.

      • February 10th 2013 @ 11:14am
        batman said | February 10th 2013 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        for mine we need to forget cooper.

        barnes is the better test option

        • February 10th 2013 @ 12:41pm
          Justin2 said | February 10th 2013 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

          Lucas is a better Test option than Barnes IF you want to forget Cooper. Unfortunately he is playing 9 which is not his best spot IMO and many others. I wish the Rebels had chased him down rather than HIggers and we could have seen a genuine 10 alternative.

          Barnes is not the answer at 10, lack vision and creativity. Gutsy yes but if we want to play with some width he isnt the man. If you want to play conservative rugby there is an argument for him.

          Its the biggest question mark around Deans – he doesnt appear to know what style he wants to play or the players he wants to use.

      • February 10th 2013 @ 12:48pm
        winediamond said | February 10th 2013 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

        KPM
        Way too far ahead to be penciling in a wallaby line up. The only way (anyone) could do it is
        1/ barring injury
        2/ assuming the players play as well as they are capable.
        That being so Burgess has no chance of being No 2 half,Mitchell & AAC are the other backs,Foley , Barnes as the 23rd man

      • February 11th 2013 @ 6:52am
        Kane said | February 11th 2013 @ 6:52am | ! Report

        Ioane at 2nd 5?

        • February 11th 2013 @ 8:04am
          kingplaymaker said | February 11th 2013 @ 8:04am | ! Report

          Kane that was a list of potentially the best players, but as I said not necessarily in that combination. JOC would be more of a natural 12, but is too lightweight. Maybe Tomane.

    • February 10th 2013 @ 12:59pm
      kingplaymaker said | February 10th 2013 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

      winediamond, true, I’m not pencilling them in so much as pondering what might be the best lineup before too long. Of course there are other players who may well play this year, those returning from injury, and young up and coming players who may make an impact.

      Not a bad backline and bench though is it?

      • February 10th 2013 @ 1:23pm
        winediamond said | February 10th 2013 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

        KPM
        Very nice indeed. Particularly if at peak form, & without niggles. Look at the wallabies pushing into this collection of backs too. Cummins, Shipperly, Monahan, Mogg,Lucas, Tapuae, Rathbone. Jeez !!!.
        What this illuminates definitively is the folly / stupidity of ‘Mothballing” wallabies to play against the Lions.
        WE MUST throw everything we’ve got at the b#$@*ds at every opportunity. Remember NSW vs Lions 2001.

    • February 10th 2013 @ 1:33pm
      kingplaymaker said | February 10th 2013 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

      A shame though that they are all concentrated in the Waratahs/Reds/Brumbies, with one or two big ones at the Rebels. Give the Force the Brumbies bench and things would be different.

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