I can’t be a one-trick pony: Folau

By Will Knight, Will Knight is a Roar Guru

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42 Have your say

    By his own admission, Israel Folau needs to take the blinkers off. In his Super Rugby debut last Saturday night for the Waratahs, the destructive ball-runner was well contained by the Queensland Reds who rushed up on him before he had a chance to wind up.

    Folau admitted on Wednesday that his scrappy display at fullback – that included some fumbles and poor positioning in defence – had taught him a lesson in his newest code.

    That is, he can’t rely solely on his damaging running game that made him an Australian rugby league international at the age of 18 and that passing and kicking options can no longer be an afterthought.

    He will look to utilise the kicking skills he allegedly learnt during his ill-fated AFL career and also add subtlety with a passing game – as early as Friday night against the Melbourne Rebels.

    “The Reds put a lot of pressure on me,” Folau said after training.

    “I learnt a lot from that game.

    “I’ve just got to mix up my game with passing and other things instead of just trying to take things on on my own.

    “I feel like there’s definitely a lot more space playing rugby but I’ve just got to weigh up my options a lot better.”

    Folau said he needs to kick his habit of tucking the ball under his arm and looking to puncture the defence, although he will continue to back himself if the time is right.

    “My first instinct is to take the line on with my attack,” he said.

    “If the opportunity is there to kick I’ll take it. I’ve got to mix up my game.

    “But I’ll back myself in taking the ball back as well.

    “I was pretty disappointed about my personal performance (against the Reds).

    “But now that’s done and dusted and I’m looking forward to this week.”

    Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said there was no temptation to move Folau to the wing for the Rebels match.

    “He himself would say he was only at half tilt compared to what he can do,” said Cheika.

    “He still beat a lot of defenders but not in the areas that we wanted to.

    “He’s a consummate pro so I’m sure he’ll bounce back.”

    Folau will be hoping to replicate his performance against the Rebels in a trial match in Hobart earlier this month.

    With Wallabies coach Robbie Deans on hand, the 23-year-old crossed for two tries and off-loaded for another after turning down NRL suitors to play rugby union.

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    The Crowd Says (42)

    • February 28th 2013 @ 5:20am
      mania said | February 28th 2013 @ 5:20am | ! Report

      finally folau with out all the hype bs that he’s gonna save tah’s rugby. the kids only human yet rorarers go on about him like he’s the next best thing. puh lease, rugbys a hard game to learn if you havent played it.
      folau’s got a learning curve to climb just like every other league convert. is he as good as SBW? maybe but it took SBW 4 years to become a complete rugby player.

      • February 28th 2013 @ 6:41am
        Cantab said | February 28th 2013 @ 6:41am | ! Report

        That’s right, it took SBW 4 years to become NZ’s 3rd/4th choice centre.

        Sure he may become a good player but its amazing the expectations on this seasons performance.

        • February 28th 2013 @ 8:27am
          AussiKiwi said | February 28th 2013 @ 8:27am | ! Report

          In fairness to SBW, by the end of last season he was the best in NZ, although I understand that a Cantabrian might have a different view…..

          • February 28th 2013 @ 8:34am
            mania said | February 28th 2013 @ 8:34am | ! Report

            AK – i thought SBW was in the top 2. tho i stil prefer nonu

            • February 28th 2013 @ 8:50am
              AussiKiwi said | February 28th 2013 @ 8:50am | ! Report

              We’ll see how he goes this season for the mighty Highlanders!

        • February 28th 2013 @ 8:51am
          Jerry said | February 28th 2013 @ 8:51am | ! Report

          SBW was in NZ rugby for 2 calendar years and was first choice 12 when he left, what are you on about?

          • February 28th 2013 @ 10:12am
            Simon_Sez said | February 28th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

            Jerry, I think Mania & Cantab make it 4 years by including the 2 years he played in France before heading off to NZ.

          • Roar Guru

            February 28th 2013 @ 12:11pm
            Jiggles said | February 28th 2013 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

            Better than Nonu? I think I’d still pick him I think over $BW who had all the tricks, but could be bullied into submission.

            • February 28th 2013 @ 2:45pm
              Jerry said | February 28th 2013 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

              He was better than Nonu last year (but Nonu was out of form) It’s not like Nonu is Mr Dependable,

              • February 28th 2013 @ 4:34pm
                AussiKiwi said | February 28th 2013 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

                Agreed, and that’s why I am concerned about how he will go at the Highlanders, too many mistakes and penalties given away last season.

    • February 28th 2013 @ 7:29am
      Kane said | February 28th 2013 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      He needs to learn a trick first before he becomes a one trick pony

      • February 28th 2013 @ 7:31am
        mania said | February 28th 2013 @ 7:31am | ! Report

        harsh kane, i hear he can balance a spoon on his nose. and he did score a try

        • February 28th 2013 @ 8:22am
          Kane said | February 28th 2013 @ 8:22am | ! Report

          At this stage harsh but fair

          • February 28th 2013 @ 9:12am
            The Battered Slav said | February 28th 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

            Beat me to it Kane.

            From what I’ve been told by a few of my mungo loving mates, he was a bit of a one trick pony in league as well.

            Catch bomb, fall over, score.

            Rinse and repeat.

            Although to be honest, the ability to catch bombs in Australian rugby is a rare one.

            I wouldn’t mind seeing how he goes after he’s had time to find his feet. As many are saying, SBW took a while and we all know how that turned out (he was also a one trick pony, albeit a very effective one: truck it, take contact, offload…rinse and repeat)

    • February 28th 2013 @ 9:20am
      kingplaymaker said | February 28th 2013 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      TBS I think the in the air stuff is often highlighted but he was a monster running with the ball: huge, lightening fast, elusive and a great step. The lot.

      However, Greg Inglis also has tremendous ball skills and while Folau is ok in that department, Inglis is more like SBW in that area.

      Folau never was quite the superhuman on the field that Inglis and Hayne (briefly) were, but then as he left the code at 20 it’s hard to know if he would have joined them on the highest heights a year or two later, as players continually improve and reach new peaks. Hayne for example suddenly transformed as a player at the age of 21.

      So I guess Folau is one rung down from Inglis overall. But then, who’s better between Lomu and Umaga? One of them could be worse that the other and still fantastic.

      • February 28th 2013 @ 10:02am
        Sailosi said | February 28th 2013 @ 10:02am | ! Report

        There is one thing Folau has never been and that is fast.

        • February 28th 2013 @ 10:10am
          kingplaymaker said | February 28th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          Sailosi do you really think so? I would say he is fast though not as fast as others such as Barba/Inglis who are jet rockets.

          • February 28th 2013 @ 11:43am
            nickoldschool said | February 28th 2013 @ 11:43am | ! Report

            Lets say he is deceptively quick then!

            Funnily enough Kpm I always thought he was quick when he was in the nrl but in the two rugby games taht i have seen him play so far he didnt seem as quick. Dunno if it’s just visual or is just surrounded by faster players though. Coud also be that he is just at a stage in his conditioning where he worked more on endurance rather than speed, dunno.

            • February 28th 2013 @ 12:26pm
              kingplaymaker said | February 28th 2013 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

              nos I don’t really know all that works, but I wonder if you don’t need more muscle to hit top speeds? Obviously too much can slow a player down and that’s what gets talked about (i.e. Tuqiri towards the end), but maybe quite a lot is still needed to be fast. When you look at sprinters unless they have unusual body types like Bolt they are normally colossally beefed up with muscle.

              Presumably now he’s slowly rebuilding the bulk he used to have from his AFL days but I wonder why it’s taking so long or whether it’s a conscious choice from Cheika that he should be lighter. There’s supposedly such a thing as muscle memory and given how long Folau must now have been lifting heavy weights since he left the AFL it’s suprising he’s still so slender.

              • February 28th 2013 @ 12:37pm
                mania said | February 28th 2013 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

                upper body strength decides your acceleration. top speed however is your legs. u can beef your legs up in the gym but it wont give u more speed. the most u can shave off a 100m sprint with intense training is half a sec at the most. most people cant achieve this and most anyone might shave off is 0.1 of a sec.
                folau just needs to hit the road more and do some sprint training.

                i’m anti gym training as its only ever any good if u play against a set of barbells/dumbells.

                …and usain bolt is buff.

              • February 28th 2013 @ 12:39pm
                kingplaymaker said | February 28th 2013 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

                mania but look at a top sprinting line up in both upper and lower body and they’re all massive. Plus half a second is a huge change in speed at a high level of sport.

              • February 28th 2013 @ 12:49pm
                mania said | February 28th 2013 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

                yeah all the sprinters are massive but usain looks like a panther in comparison
                yeah 0.5 sec is a huge amount to shave off but folau should just be aiming to get back to his NRL speed.

              • February 28th 2013 @ 1:04pm
                nickoldschool said | February 28th 2013 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

                Interesting mania and Kpm. I have the impression Though that the quick guys in rugby are much smaller as we need guys who are very quick over 10 to 40m rather than over 100m. That’s why we have had a few speedsters who were fairly small over the years. Clerc, Howlett and now Mvovo, Basson or evn Davies or Turner aren’t huge at all.

                But looking at IF body type, I think he needs to be bigger and bulkier to reach his top speed. Will be interesting to see if he does improve as the season goes.

      • Roar Guru

        February 28th 2013 @ 10:10am
        Hoy said | February 28th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        KPM, I can’t understand your obsession with Hayne. Where has Hayne been for the last few years? He had one half a good season, and has not done much in the years since. He turns up for static moments in three games a year and that is enough to continue this perpetual myth that he is good.

        Folau was never elusive, not does he possess a great step. I never thought Folau was very good in the centres at Brisbane. He never once improved the position of the team through clever play. He would be given the ball, and if 5-10 out, he would attempt to barge over, and if he was 50 out, he would attempt to barge through. At least near the line it would work sometimes, but I can’t recall him making a break in midfield, and I certainly can’t ever recall him drawing and passing to a winger in a better position because of how Folau had set up a run to draw and pass. It just never happened.

        • February 28th 2013 @ 10:13am
          kingplaymaker said | February 28th 2013 @ 10:13am | ! Report

          Hoy I was referring to Hayne because he was a star of Folau’s generation and that’s when he had his brief peak. Inglis, Hayne and Folau were comparable at that stage. You’re right he’s gone way downhill since.

          My memory’s different: I remember him doing all those things, but not necessarily from as long a distance as Inglis. I wouldn’t say he’s the number 1 runner level like Inglis or Barba, but is number 2, like Hunt compared to Slater.

      • February 28th 2013 @ 10:51am
        The Battered Slav said | February 28th 2013 @ 10:51am | ! Report

        Fair enough KPM, but in all seriousness on theweekend he looked anything but elusive, lightning fast with a great step.

        I can understand that his positional play was poor, that’s to be expected with a new convert playing in a technically demanding position such as fullback, but I can’t understand why he didn’t appear to have any of those qualities that you describe.

        Those qualities do not rely on one’s understanding of the game, but are rather down to individual ability and should be there until a [;ayer starts to decline in form due to age or whatever else.

        The fact that he showed no glimpses of that is a bit worrying, as they should have been apparent in his play but were not.

        • February 28th 2013 @ 11:02am
          kingplaymaker said | February 28th 2013 @ 11:02am | ! Report

          TBS it’s his first real match and judging by normal conversion rates he should take a good few to get going: plus he had to face heavy marking and is I think out of position. Knowing the precise angles to run is supposed to vary between the two games and take a while to adjust to.

          But a question is what effect radically altering his body in the AFL for two years will have done. I’m not sure you can be a heavily bulked up athlete for several years, trim down for two years, then bulk up again and be just the same. However I think it’ll be a few matches before he can be looked at too much, and hopefully not at full-back.

          I find it kind of depressing rugby couldn’t get Inglis or Barba. In the old days at least they could get hold of genuine number 1 stars like Tuqiri and Sailor whereas Folau is really the second level, however good that may be.

          • February 28th 2013 @ 11:37am
            The Battered Slav said | February 28th 2013 @ 11:37am | ! Report

            Agreed on the conditioning point KPM, I didn’t take into account the change in body shape attributable to his time in AFL.

            However I really very strongly disagree with chasing mungos around with chequebooks, especially some of the reprobates like Barba. I thought we tried this for a few years and payed through the nose of average performers whose hearts weren’t in the game.

            As I have said earlier, if they want a new challenge and are willing to start in the EPS or at least on the bench of a super rugby team and work their way up then sure, sign them up. What we need to avoid is more of the early to mid noughties bollocks where the ARU was high on it’s new found sense of wealth arising from professionalilsm and the windfall of ’03 RWC, and threw money at mungos left right and centre.

            Have we not learnt our lesson?

            Evidently some of us have, and some of us haven’t.

            • February 28th 2013 @ 12:04pm
              mania said | February 28th 2013 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

              hey slav – there was an upside tho. guys like jerry collins and troy flavell made it their personal goal to give those converts a close welcome message. watching jerry get his hands on tuqiri and sailor was awesome.

              • February 28th 2013 @ 2:38pm
                The Battered Slav said | February 28th 2013 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

                Watching Jerry get his hands on anyone was a treat mania, a treat that I sorely miss.

                is he still getting around in Euro rugby or Japan, or has he retired?

            • February 28th 2013 @ 12:21pm
              kingplaymaker said | February 28th 2013 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

              TBS sure, I don’t mean they should go chasing them around or paying through the nose. It’s more just a shame that rugby doesn’t attract the big guns the way it used to.

              Having said that two of those big guns in the noughties were virtually at the end of their careers. Sailor and Rogers moved over way too late to make it their main career, and you have to doubt whether players are as motivated then as when they’re younger.

              I don’t think rugby should bring in league converts over 25. They’re much less successful. Compare Tahu to Tuqiri: 26 year old to 23 year old. Unless you’re just buying a player to fill a Super rugby slot with no thought of international competition, like Saffy, then 25 should be an upper limit.

              But it would be nice if there were more players like Folau who are attracted to rugby young and not when they’re old and think it’s just a career after-thought like Sailor/Tahu. Those are the only ones worth having (even then I agree with you they shouldn’t have money thrown at them).

              • March 1st 2013 @ 2:23am
                ScrumJunkie said | March 1st 2013 @ 2:23am | ! Report

                I always think people are a bit harsh on Sailor, when he first came across I thought it was ridiculous, and wasn’t shy about expressing it.

                He won me over however and I thought he was really coming good, just as he got banned.

              • March 1st 2013 @ 4:10am
                kingplaymaker said | March 1st 2013 @ 4:10am | ! Report

                ScrumJunkie then why couldn’t he have moved over when he was younger? Why did he put rugby last in his list of priorities and only make the cross-over near the end of his career?

                I do agree with you though that it was insanity to ban a player you’ve sunk 100s of thousands of dollars into one year before a World Cup! Who knows what difference it might have made because as you say he was coming good. Same with letting Rogers go which was ridiculous. If they were going to let them go it should have been after the World Cup, not one year before.

              • March 1st 2013 @ 4:54am
                mania said | March 1st 2013 @ 4:54am | ! Report

                sailor was done for cocaine, so tough. not sports enhancing but u know how authorities get with bringing the game into disrepute.
                sure sailor was getting better but i still didnt think he deserved to be in the wb’s. the only reason he made it automatically was because of how much his contract was for.

    • February 28th 2013 @ 9:42am
      Malo said | February 28th 2013 @ 9:42am | ! Report

      He is learning and will go a lot better this weekend with more room. Think the centres would be a better position for him though Two tries this w/end should get the roarers off his back a bit.

    • February 28th 2013 @ 10:05am
      Rod said | February 28th 2013 @ 10:05am | ! Report

      In league, Folau had problems defending in the centres, The thing is he lacks compared to an Inglis, he is not as strong , does not have the passing game, kicking game , aggression in defence and Speed, which is why you never saw Folau score from any more than 40 out. That said he is still bloody effective in a lot of ways, but he may actually prove to be more effective in union like SBW did , than in League.

    • February 28th 2013 @ 10:08am
      Shungmao said | February 28th 2013 @ 10:08am | ! Report

      He will be a success, just needs to stick at it. Yeah he stuffed some things up last week but plenty of runs and effort to compete. He himself has said it wasn’t good enough, so lets see. I for one want him to do well.

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