The Roar
The Roar


Israel Folau: Rugby's most overrated player?

Israel Folau (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Guru
21st August, 2017
1497 Reads

‘Indolent’ is an adjective that means wanting to avoid activity or exertion; lazy, arrogant and disrespectful. That’s the summary of Folau’s performance against the Western Force last month.

Yet commentators on tv and The Roar call him a freak and a try-scoring machine. Seriously? Four of his six June Test tries were absolute gimmes and the two he caught in the air were ones that any 3rd-grade footy player would have taken as a contested mark.

In Super Rugby, Folau ranks 34th in line breaks – so much for his attacking genius. He also ranks 61st in passes and 60th in possessions. As a mark of how disengaged he is, he made 40 tackles (ranked 324th) – as a reference point Billy Meakes made 106 – plus Folau’s tackle effectiveness is an amateurish 61 per cent.

So how’d he go in the first Bledisloe game?

Folau’s performance was abysmal, in the 17th minute Rieko Ioane ran right around him, Folau was hopelessly outgunned. This also showed his incredibly poor decision making.

In the 19th minute, Damian McKenzie kicked behind the theoretical defensive line – I say theoretical because there was no defence. Will Genia had to scamper back to field the ball. Where was Folau?

When Ryan Crotty scored in 24th minute Folau was two metres in front of Henry Speight with a four-metre gap between them. If they had gone wide, it would have been a further embarrassment for Folau.

McKenzie’s try in the 42nd minute came about directly from a very poor pass from Folau to Hooper – too high and too hard – it was taken by Beauden Barrett and McKenzie scored.

As if the lack of spine from the backline wasn’t enough, it was left to Adam Coleman to chase down and tackle Ioane and Allan Alaalatoa chased the try scorer. Where was Folau? Well, he gave up at about the ten-metre line and didn’t bother giving chase.


Folau had every opportunity to cover the try scored by Liam Squire as well. When Squire scored early in the game Folau was nowhere to be seen. Once again, when McKenzie kicked deep in left-side, the ball was fielded by Bernard Foley, who was running back and kicked it into touch. The All Blacks then took a quick line out and again attacked the left side of the field.

Zero cover defence.

Zero defence for that matter.

Super Rugby, Test rugby – Israel, it’s time to move on.