Haylett-Petty: Rugby's forgotten full back

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

In all the speculation around Israel Folau, it can be easy to forget there’s a potentially ready-made replacement for the superstar sitting on the wing.


Western Force fullback Dane Haylett-Petty would be the obvious successor for Folau at 15 if he were to move to outside centre, though he says he is just starting to find his feet on the wing.

“Ive been focused on becoming a winger, enjoying the challenge on the wing and slowly trying to improve each week. Who knows where Izzy will play, he could play anywhere.

“I’ve played more rugby at 15, but I’m really happy wherever, just hopefully on the field.”
Dane Haylett-Petty was a standout. Photo: Getty ImagesDefence has been his biggest barrier for Dane, but he said that was still a key focus

"That’s probably the biggest change and that’s probably the area I’m trying to work on most and improve slightly each game ... All the other stuff is quite similar,” he said.

While this is Haylett-Petty’s first Spring Tour, Europe is not unfamiliar territory, having played three seasons with French glamour club Biarritz, which will be an experience he will draw on over the next month.

“Without a doubt [it’ll help],” he said. “The style a lot of these teams play, it’s very direct and there’s a lot of kicking. Spending three years playing in France, you know what to expect, playing a lot of it in the past is hopefully going to hold me in good stead for the next five weeks. 

That kicking is in contrast to the running philosophy of Michael Chaika, but that’s an approach Haylett-Petty backs.

“He's big on trying to excite the fans and play that Aussie style and I feel like that does suit me,”
“But then to win you need to be able to adapt at times and I’m sure there's going to be times where we need to adapt.”

Experience has been a crucial element for the outside back this season, crowned the Wallabies Rookie of the Year, despite being 27, and he wants to continue to make the most of that advantage.

 

Hear what @danehp had to say after picking up the @wallabies Rookie of the Year award last night. #JEM2016

A video posted by rugby.com.au (@rugbycomau) on


“I’m a bit older than the rest of those boys, they’ve started really well this season … I think the experience with the amount of games I have played has helped me settle into the Test arena, and I am really enjoying the challenges each week’s brining - There's been a few ups and downs but enjoying it."

While it hasn’t all been smooth sailing this season, Haylett-Petty was confident the Wallabies were on the right track.

“I think we’ve been slowly finding our game each week,” he said.

“We were right in it the last five, if we'd won a few of those, we and would be building nicely.

“We’ve got an opportunity as a team to do something special up here. With the grand slam, the key is to focus day by day because if we don’t get through that first week it’s all over.”

The Wallabies take on Wales this Sunday morning, 6 November from 1.30am AEDT on BeIn Sports Channel 513, as part of your FOXTEL subscription.

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