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Where will the Wallaby selectors play Folau and Beale?

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Expert
9th March, 2019
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Last night at the SCG against the Queensland Reds, Israel Folau was selected on the right wing, Kurtley Beale at fullback.

The Waratahs accounted for the Reds 28-17, but the question was far from resolved.

Folau had precious little room to move out in the boondocks while Beale grabbed the one chance to send a perfectly timed pass to the other winger Curtis Rona to finish off a spectacular 65-metre burst from start to finish.

No doubt that same Folau-Beale question will be asked all the way to the Rugby World Cup, and beyond.

Seeing Folau has scored seven tries from his last eight appearances at fullback, my preference is Folau wearing No.15 and Beale No.12.

But there are other questions that are far easier to answer such as Will Genia and Quade Cooper will be the Wallaby halves, Samu Kerevi will be in the centres, and Adam Ashley-Cooper is well past his use-by-date.

Interviewed post-game, Ashley-Cooper virtually signed his own non-selection warrant by saying 80 minutes is difficult when you’re 34.

That was obvious last night in the first 20 minutes, let alone the full journey.

But the Genia-Cooper combination that served the Reds for so long has been reunited, and reignited, with the Rebels to great effect.

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More importantly, they are both really enjoying being back together, and it shows.

The Rebels are bowling along undefeated at the top of the Australian Conference after three wins, with the Waratahs knocking on their door with two wins, and a one-point loss.

Match stats normally don’t lie, but they did last night.

How on earth did the Waratahs win with only 29 per cent of possession and 29 per cent of territory, missing 24 tackles, and giving away 14 penalties?

It became a comedy of errors with the Waratahs giving away penalties, and the Reds coughing up possession when they were looking likely to score.

So don’t be surprised if Reds coach Brad Thorn is totally bald by June, having torn out what hair he has left.

The fact the Reds were the better side was hard enough for Thorn to cop, but adding salt to his wounds was his goal-kicker Bryce Hegarty landing only one from five, while Bernard Foley raised the flags five from five.

That was basically the difference between the two sides.

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The Reds also have a major problem with last night’s loss, their 24th from 26 away games.

Along with the stats, that doesn’t make any sense.

On the credit side, Kerevi is a quality footballer, scoring a try himself and setting up the other two last night – as well as being an excellent captain.

He should be supported more up front by the very talented No.8 Scott Higginbotham, a former Reds captain who has become more of a rebel without a cause.

If he kept himself under control he would be a huge asset to the Reds throwing his 195-centimetre, 110-kilogram frame around, and would very quickly add to his 34 Wallaby caps.

No better time for Higgingbotham to shape up than in a Rugby World Cup year.