Folau can change union says Gibson

By Rob Forsaith,


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    Sonny Bill Williams’ indefensible offload changed rugby union and Israel Folau’s vertical leap has the potential to do the same, according to new NSW Waratahs assistant coach Daryl Gibson.

    Former All Black Gibson, who helped mould the Crusaders’ potent backline when Williams made his Super Rugby debut, watched Folau train for the first time with NSW on Thursday.

    It was a low-key hit-out, with Folau laying a couple of slick passes and making a handful of line breaks during drills, but Gibson was already thinking big about the impact a bulked-up Folau can have on the 15-man game.

    “Sonny brought to union some skills he had from league and he’s changed our game,” Gibson said.

    “Israel, particularly with his aerial ability, could potentially do the same.

    “It’s not a skill we’re particular adept at. He spent two years catching and kicking (in the AFL) and we’d be foolish not to utilise that skill.”

    Gibson, part of the Crusaders’ foundation squad in 1996 and involved in union ever since, said he’d never seen anything like Folau’s ability to leap and snaffle the high ball.

    “And what I haven’t seen in union a lot is the ability to catch the ball above your head, and that’s a skill he’s going to bring to our game,” Gibson said.

    “Absolutely (it could change the game) and what it will change is teams’ ability to defend us.

    “If the backfield is worried about his aerial game, then it obviously opens up opportunities elsewhere on the field.

    “We’re going to have to exploit that.”

    Folau spoke of his desire to take on the All Blacks on Tuesday, and Gibson revealed the 23-year-old’s switch to union had already created waves in his rugby-mad homeland.

    “I got a number of texts from people back in New Zealand who were excited to see him go,” Gibson said.

    “A few (Super Rugby) coaches and obviously players (sent messages). It’s neat that they’re aware we’ve signed someone of his calibre.”

    Folau, who coach Michael Cheika says will play in the back three, will initially be shielded from contact work while he learns the intricacies of the ruck.

    The code-hopper’s other major challenge will be to re-design his physique after shedding seven kilograms to prepare for the endurance required in AFL.

    But Cheika said Folau will do a lot of running without the ball for the ‘Tahs and his body transformation won’t be overly severe.

    “Maybe somewhere in the middle (of his playing weights in AFL and NRL). I can’t be sure, there’s no exact science to this,” Cheika said.

    “I don’t know if it’s about upper chest or lower body. Most players know the weight they feel comfortable at. You got to go with your gut feel.

    “It (Folau’s preparation for Super Rugby) is not really about that. It’s about footy.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (30)

    • December 7th 2012 @ 9:03am
      TC said | December 7th 2012 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      Now that we’ve stripped the hysterical rubbish out of the way, it’s good to hear from inside the tahs’ camp about what they have in mind for Izzy. It sounds pretty exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it unfolds.

      But if we’re honest, one year won’t be enough, so I’m hoping both parties like enough of each other to extend terms, and then we’re getting into the realms of he-can-be-anything.


    • Roar Guru

      December 7th 2012 @ 9:09am
      Rusty said | December 7th 2012 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      so its going to be take it forward a few times and then a hanging kick?

    • Roar Guru

      December 7th 2012 @ 9:19am
      AlBo said | December 7th 2012 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      The beauty of having someone who’s so aerially efficient out wide means that defences are going to have to commit numbers on the edge when the Tahs are close to the line. This will mean there will be much bigger holes in the middle to be taken advantage of by the centres and loose forwards.

      As TC says, hyperbole aside these are all developments that will be interesting to see unfold. It sounds like good things are happening in Camp W and the coaches look to be saying the right things. We’ll see how to comes out in the wash of the competition.

      • Roar Rookie

        December 11th 2012 @ 12:23pm
        Neuen said | December 11th 2012 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

        Why do they need to do that? If the defender is out wide no matter how bad he can catch a ball all he need to do is jump and slap the ball behind the dead ball line or out the touchline.

        • Roar Guru

          December 11th 2012 @ 12:30pm
          PeterK said | December 11th 2012 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

          hitting the ball out is a penalty offence. do it enough and a yellow card or penalty try will be given.
          You cannot use the hands to knock a ball over touch or the deadball line.

          • Roar Rookie

            December 11th 2012 @ 1:05pm
            Neuen said | December 11th 2012 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

            Let me rephrase that. Tip it back to a “team mate”. But it is easier to catch a high ball or take a pass when coming forwards, rather than going backwards. But everyone knows in rugby that if you watch the opposition number 10’s shoulders where they point is generally the direction in which the kick will go. So I don’t think he will cause much off a difference there as with the cross kick you need to catch the defense out unaware for it to work. I think he might be a force in defense IMO

    • December 7th 2012 @ 9:54am
      Worlds Biggest said | December 7th 2012 @ 9:54am | ! Report

      Great to hear from Daryl Gibson, I think he is going to bring a lot to the table. There is plenty of enthusiasm coming out of the Tahs and signing Izzy has amplified that. After years of dross under Hickey and Foley I think Tahs supporters should be feeling optimistic under Cheika.

    • December 7th 2012 @ 9:55am
      Pollock said | December 7th 2012 @ 9:55am | ! Report

      Be good to see of they can implement what they are saying

    • December 7th 2012 @ 10:22am
      Crash Ball said | December 7th 2012 @ 10:22am | ! Report

      Don’t worry about having “the ability to catch a ball above your head” – having the ability to catch a ball at all surely warrants an immediate gold jersey.

      • December 7th 2012 @ 10:32am
        Willy T Soak said | December 7th 2012 @ 10:32am | ! Report


      • December 7th 2012 @ 11:49am
        Dan said | December 7th 2012 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        You didn’t happen to catch the last minute of the Wales game by any chance did you?