Should Folau tackle the Lions?

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    Israel Folau of the NSW Waratahs looks to pass the ball. (Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro)

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    The biggest test in Australian rugby since the 2011 Rugby World Cup is about to dawn. That’s right folks, I speak of course of the British and Irish Lions tour.

    Could it have come at a bigger time? For an Australian team with everything to prove, with one of their best players out, the answer is probably not.

    Selection is always a talking point when it comes to Lions tours, but one of the bigger talking points when it comes to selection this year will be Israel Folau.

    His enormous talent is no secret, but so far it has not been fully on display. Perhaps this discussion will become irrelevant closer to the tour, but for now, whether Folau should play against the Lions is up in the air for him to leap up and grab.

    While Folau has not yet shown his full potential in the 15-man game, there’s no reason he won’t in months to come.

    Folau has a great natural leap, as well as brilliant strength close to line.

    Skills developed in his two-year stint with the Giants such as a good kicking and catching ability will also come in handy in a rugby union backline, especially a future Wallabies backline, featuring the likes of Jesse Mogg, James O’Connor, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale.

    There is no doubt Folau has the tools to be a revolutionary outside back for the Wallabies. He also has experience of test match pressure, capping for the Kangaroos seven times in his league career.

    Folau unquestionably has all the tools to be a star in union. We just have to wait for it to happen.

    Oh, how many times the above has been said, but not fulfilled. Not to mention the potential Izzy had in Australian rules that went to waste when the club gave up on him.

    But one of the cruel facts of life is that sometimes things don’t always work out, which could easily be the case with Folau with rugby.

    He hasn’t shown a whole heap through his first few games, and if the trend continues, there’s no reason for him to be dressing up in the gold later on in the year.

    And of course, to throw an inexperienced rugby player into his first Wallaby test against the British and Irish Lions could easily spell disaster.

    While the Lions dominant power comes mainly through their pack, the skill of Leigh Halfpenny, experience of Brian O’Driscoll and kicking kicking prowess of Jonny Sexton could easily debunk Folau.

    No-one is doubting Israel Folau has the makings to be the superstar in union he was in league. He has great size, speed and hand and foot skills, but his breakdown play needs to improve, as does his confidence.

    If he can manage this in time for the Lions’ tour, he will give the Wallabies a skillful edge seen by the likes of James O’Connor and an in-form Quade Cooper. Let’s hope things go to plan.

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    The Crowd Says (115)

    • March 21st 2013 @ 10:10am
      mania said | March 21st 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

      no way

      • Roar Guru

        March 21st 2013 @ 12:15pm
        jeznez said | March 21st 2013 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        agree – am happy for him to keep turning out for my Tahs. The team are just playing for pride and to develop for the rest of the season but there is no way this guy should be anywhere near a Wallaby jumper.

    • March 21st 2013 @ 10:11am
      kingplaymaker said | March 21st 2013 @ 10:11am | ! Report

      I’m no sure how the kicking prowess of Sexton and BOD could easily debunk the outstanding aerial player in the NRL who since has received a further two years specialist training the NRL.

      If BOD were selected, it might even be safe to play JOC at 12 as BOD would threaten little as a runner.

      That would allow Tomane to take JOC’s place on the wing.

      If Folau played, Ioane would need to move into 13.

    • March 21st 2013 @ 10:19am
      Boris said | March 21st 2013 @ 10:19am | ! Report


      • March 21st 2013 @ 10:26am
        Red Kev said | March 21st 2013 @ 10:26am | ! Report

        Very well said – absolutely no.

    • March 21st 2013 @ 10:25am
      formeropenside said | March 21st 2013 @ 10:25am | ! Report


      • March 21st 2013 @ 10:45am
        kingplaymaker said | March 21st 2013 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        Lovely sophistication in some of the replies today: perhaps it’s worth considering that he could beat any player in the Lions backline in the air for cross-kicks.

        • March 21st 2013 @ 11:32am
          maximillian said | March 21st 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report

          thats true but also any lions backilne player could beat Folau in regards to rugby instinct & rugby experience, & that is far more important.

          • March 21st 2013 @ 11:59am
            John Philipson said | March 21st 2013 @ 11:59am | ! Report

            Hahahaha ‘Rugby Instinct’ wow that is clutching at straws.

            • Roar Guru

              March 21st 2013 @ 12:19pm
              jeznez said | March 21st 2013 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

              Don’t know that it is a straw John – go back and watch him usher Shipperly over the try line in the first game. If he wasn’t such a rookie with so little ‘rugby instinct’ you’d think he had money on Shipperly for first try scorer.

              • March 21st 2013 @ 12:45pm
                kingplaymaker said | March 21st 2013 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

                Have a look at the more experienced player who failed in his duty to stop Shipperley during that try. It would have been identical in league.

              • Roar Guru

                March 21st 2013 @ 2:33pm
                jeznez said | March 21st 2013 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

                Want to put a name on who that was?

                My memory says there was an overlap in the front line – Shipperly as the spare attacking player needed to be picked up by the fullback – instead Folau ran backwards towards his own deadball line while calling for the cover in Adam Ashley-Cooper to come across and tackle a player AAC was never going to reach.

                Even if there had been someone someone beaten up front there is a point in time which the fullback needs to commit and take the attacker – the cover defence take over the sweeping duties at the back. The point at which the fullback goes forward to make the tackle is before the try line – in this instance about 20 metres before it.

                Who is your cryptic comment about a more experienced player failing in their duty directed at? Doesn’t fit with my recollection (which could be wrong) at all.

                Even if it wasn’t an overlap and there was a missed tackle up front – that is an error in technique.

                Folau’s error of running backwards over the try line and allowing the attacking player to score was not a technique failure but rather a display of a lack of understanding of how to play rugby – which is what this discussion about a lack of ‘rugby instinct’ is about.

              • March 21st 2013 @ 2:40pm
                kingplaymaker said | March 21st 2013 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

                AAC held off, because Shipperley moved in and he bought it, pulled away and then by the time he moved forward it was too late (Folau had not called for him). Folau should have come forward too, but he would have had to come forward in the same situation in league. Both players made mistakes, but AAC doesn’t get the blame Folau does, while Folau while he did make a mistake made one he would have done in league too.

              • March 21st 2013 @ 3:48pm
                Justin2 said | March 21st 2013 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

                @ KPM – have a look at this and get back to us –

                AAC was coming across in cover, he was 2nd man in from the sideline, the Reds had a 4 on 2 overlap. Not AACs fault in any way shape or form for not getting Ships. Folau on the other hand back tracked, end of story.

              • March 21st 2013 @ 6:37pm
                James said | March 21st 2013 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

                I don’t know what everyone is complaining about. Folau was clearly involved in all 3 tries. Unfortunately they were all for the other side.

              • March 21st 2013 @ 6:50pm
                The Insider said | March 21st 2013 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

                Well said J2, jez.

                While you’re watching the Shipperly try KPM, also take a look at the Tapuai try where AAC looks to his supporting player Folau and instinctively pops an offload from the ground. Folau on the other hand sees the man go to ground and starts back peddling into the line for the next one in six.

                This guy will take easily twice as long to realise the potential that has been pumped into his tyres. SBW is a gifted athlete, he made the NRL age 18 or there abouts. He was not a natural Rygby Union player and he knew it would take him time and mentoring to get to the top. He picked Tana Umaga to tutor him at Tulon and then chose Wayne Smith at the Crusaders and Chiefs.

                Folau has been scooped up in a frenzy by the Warrathas and ARU for, commercial bums on seats reasons. He won’y get the level of mentoring on field or off that he needs to develop quickly and he will be playing in a team where the coach has any number of far more pressing issues to deal with.

                I can’t see him sticking it out in Rugby Union, I’d be surprised if his agent is not already in negotiations with NRL Clubs with large space under the salary gap caused by the doping investigations and release of marque players. He will get top dollar jumping back intop an NRL jersey.

              • Roar Guru

                March 21st 2013 @ 6:56pm
                jeznez said | March 21st 2013 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

                thanks J2 – so my memory isn’t failing me yet.

                KP – I stand by the initial statement – his ‘rugby instincts’ aren’t there yet.

              • Roar Guru

                March 21st 2013 @ 7:07pm
                jeznez said | March 21st 2013 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

                Insider – is that really you? Are you actually AAC? Or just one of his mates??


                I didn’t notice him back-pedalling to set for the next tackle during the game but it is perfectly understandable. He has been trained to do that instinctively for most of his sporting life. It will take time for him to learn to react instinctively in relation to Union play.

                Your comments about SBW and his mentors, along with Cheika’s competing priorities are very pertinent.

              • March 22nd 2013 @ 5:48am
                kingplaymaker said | March 22nd 2013 @ 5:48am | ! Report

                Insider unfortunately I wasn’t able to look at the computer for several hours so just saw this.

                I won’t really go into the try if, as jeznez says, you actually are AAC or closely bonded to him.

                As for Folau, I’m not sure why the lack of confidence in his success. Brad Thorn, Jason Robinson and Lote Tuqiri all made effective conversions to rugby and became outstanding international players, despite not possessing rugby instincts at the outset. I don’t see why the same shouldn’t be the case with Folau. Like SBW he actually made the NRL at 18 and if I’m not mistaken QLD SOO and the Kangaroos.

                He may not be well mentored for the Waratahs, but Umaga’s coaching has often be very heavily criticised so it could be SBW wasn’t mentored well in Toulon either. If Folau made the Wallaby squad he would get excellent mentoring from Robbie Deans which would fast-track his progression.

                At the moment I would say the problem is more Cheika not throwing him into the action in attack.

                And choosing him in the wrong position, when he’s obviously a wing or 13.

              • March 22nd 2013 @ 9:04am
                soapit said | March 22nd 2013 @ 9:04am | ! Report

                and because the video definitively shows you to be wrong no doubt

              • March 22nd 2013 @ 9:12am
                kingplaymaker said | March 22nd 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

                No it doesn’t. Both make mistakes.

              • Roar Guru

                March 22nd 2013 @ 12:29pm
                jeznez said | March 22nd 2013 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

                KP – are you saying you won’t watch the video because I speculated the Insider might be AAC? I’ve since changed my mind on that as his reference to AAC popping the ball as Folau ran backwards was off – it was Kepu popping the ball in the lead up to that try.

                If you have re-watched then I am not sure how you can maintain AAC made an error there – I’d love you to explain what that error was.

              • March 22nd 2013 @ 2:11pm
                kingplaymaker said | March 22nd 2013 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

                I watched it before I wrote to you in the beginning jeznez. He went too high and was fended off. At the speed he was coming he should have been able to tackle him before he got to the line.

              • Roar Guru

                March 22nd 2013 @ 3:46pm
                jeznez said | March 22nd 2013 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

                you think AAC got palmed off before those two passes to get to Shipperly?

                Or you don’t think AAC did enough as Folau helped Ships over the try line?

              • March 22nd 2013 @ 3:56pm
                kingplaymaker said | March 22nd 2013 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

                AAC should have tackled him lower, that would have stopped him.

                Folau also should have come forward.

                Both made mistakes.

              • Roar Guru

                March 22nd 2013 @ 4:51pm
                jeznez said | March 22nd 2013 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

                He was chasing as hard as he could from behind, if he goes low he doesn’t catch him, and if by a miracle he did then a low driving tackle drives Shipperly over the line. You are clutching at straws mate.

              • March 22nd 2013 @ 5:26pm
                Chivas said | March 22nd 2013 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

                Low from behind = kick in the face. Hips and slide down = slide off. Grab, scrag and drag = fend and miss. But I don’t know how you fend someone directly behind and side on low dive is easy…. I don’t know. I like AAC, he is one of the more reliable tacklers and commits.

              • March 23rd 2013 @ 3:42am
                kingplaymaker said | March 23rd 2013 @ 3:42am | ! Report

                You’re clutching at thin air. That was clearly a tackle that could be made. If he gone around the middle rather than the chest it would have been. A failed tackle, and your desire to bash Folau means you won’t admit it.

        • March 21st 2013 @ 12:47pm
          Kane said | March 21st 2013 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

          How many in the air cross-kicks have you seen kicked by the Waratahs this year? How many has Folau caught?

          • March 21st 2013 @ 2:41pm
            kingplaymaker said | March 21st 2013 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

            None, a bizarre omission by Cheika, perhaps because he wants to keep Folau at the back instead of in his natural positions of wing and 13.

    • March 21st 2013 @ 10:30am
      rae1 said | March 21st 2013 @ 10:30am | ! Report

      The lions will chew him up and spit him out! He’s too green.So NO!

    • March 21st 2013 @ 10:37am
      蜘王 said | March 21st 2013 @ 10:37am | ! Report

      If he plays the Lions win 3-0
      If he doesn’t play, the Lions win 2-1

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