Folau faces uphill task for Lions series

By Jim Morton,

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37 Have your say

    The coach with most experience converting NRL stars into gun rugby union players doubts Israel Folau has enough time to make the Wallabies team for next year’s British and Irish Lions series.

    Ewen McKenzie oversaw the transition of Lote Tuqiri, Mat Rogers and Mark Gasnier to the 15-man code, and also coached Wendell Sailor in his final two seasons in rugby at the NSW Waratahs.

    McKenzie expects Folau to make an impact in rugby but believes the time it takes to adapt will put him behind the eight-ball for an instant Wallabies’ call-up.

    “The aptitude for picking the game up is the biggest test and it’s not always easy from my experience,” the Queensland Reds’ director of coaching told AAP.

    The Waratahs will play 15 matches before the Super Rugby season breaks for the eagerly-awaited three-Test Lions series in June.

    But Folau, an international three-quarter in rugby league before his two-year AFL stint with Greater Western Sydney, faces stiff opposition to gain a starting berth, especially for their season-opener against the Reds on February 23.

    Standing in his way are Wallabies outside backs Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell, Lachie Turner, Rob Horne and fullback-flyhalf Berrick Barnes.

    Added to that, Reds’ flyer Digby Ioane and Rebels’ duo Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor are automatic backline selections for Australia.

    “Anything is possible, (Folau) is a good footballer, but you have to work out the position and the positional detail – that will be the challenge,” McKenzie said.

    “Plus they’ve got some pretty good incumbents there, they’ve got Test players in those positions and I don’t know who will be putting their hand up to sit on the bench and not be involved so we’ll see how they handle all that.

    “The good news for us is we’ve got them in his first game. We’re looking forward to welcoming him at Suncorp Stadium and that should get a few more bums on seats and we’ll know how good he is in the transition.”

    Turner welcomed Folau’s signing and denied the NSW backs were scared by the former Kangaroo winger’s arrival.

    “We’ve got to make sure that we put ourselves in the best position to win that spot.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (37)

    • December 6th 2012 @ 6:25am
      mania said | December 6th 2012 @ 6:25am | ! Report

      folau should be groomed for fullback in the long run. start him at wing but if he’s developed a kick from AFL then he’s FB material. we’ll see how long it takes him to pick on the positional play.

      • Roar Guru

        December 6th 2012 @ 11:45am
        PeterK said | December 6th 2012 @ 11:45am | ! Report

        totally agree, also catching the high ball.

        Folau also will be able to run it back.

    • December 6th 2012 @ 6:33am
      jumpers said | December 6th 2012 @ 6:33am | ! Report

      Folau is a LOSER and has a 1 year deal with the Tahs. He was a flop a failure at AFL and hes another code jumper. He won’t last long!

      • December 6th 2012 @ 6:46am
        mania said | December 6th 2012 @ 6:46am | ! Report

        bitter much jumpers? folau the loser just made a couple million for the past 2 seasons. he’s making a quarter of a mil next season. he was average at AFL but was a prolific try scorer in NRL.
        other code jumpers are matRogers, bradThorn and JasonRobinson, are they all losers? might pay next time to mix a bit of intelligence with your vitriol

    • December 6th 2012 @ 7:30am
      Darwin Stubbie said | December 6th 2012 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      Also throw in the Aust conference starting earlier than the others so he’ll have less pre-season time … It all means he’ll be trying to learn it all in game time …. if he starts making numerous errors and costing games – how long before he’s benched and disgruntled

      • December 6th 2012 @ 12:49pm
        atlas said | December 6th 2012 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

        One week earlier.
        Will those seven days really make a difference?

      • Roar Guru

        December 6th 2012 @ 8:38pm
        Jiggles said | December 6th 2012 @ 8:38pm | ! Report

        Similar to Tahu who was constantly benched at the Tahs. Deans gifted a Wallabies jumper which he did not deserve to try and keep him interested, and that’s is how we got the South Africa thrashing.

    • December 6th 2012 @ 7:34am
      Malo said | December 6th 2012 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      Hes definitely not a loser and will walk into the wallabies. Id like to see him at 12 or 13 but I dont agree Kurtley Beale is an automatic selection.
      9. Genia
      10. Barnes
      11. Digby
      12. Folau
      13. JOC
      14. Turner
      15. AAC

    • Roar Guru

      December 6th 2012 @ 7:50am
      B-Rock said | December 6th 2012 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Folau has to play on the wing – limited depth at the Tahs here and the lowest risk position from a positional perspective. 15 might be a longer term option depending on his boot (should there be a long term in rugby for him) but 13 is too complex defensively for a convert

      • December 6th 2012 @ 7:56am
        Justin2 said | December 6th 2012 @ 7:56am | ! Report

        Spot on Brock. Not sure about his kickin, much different in afl lining up for goal then being under the pump and needing clear your line or put up tactical bombs.

        Soon find out though…

        • December 6th 2012 @ 8:37am
          Albo said | December 6th 2012 @ 8:37am | ! Report

          Most kicks are made on the run though. This is something that he would have been coached for more than kicking for goal as I don’t think he was ever in line to be a full forward.

    • Roar Guru

      December 6th 2012 @ 7:56am
      B-Rock said | December 6th 2012 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      At best he could be used as an impact player off the bench for the wallabies – there is no way he will pick up rugby effectively enough to start a test in just 15 SR games

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