Seven-game deadline a challenge for Folau

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

He’s still not settled at outside centre, but Israel Folau is determined to make the most of the next four matches, likely to decide his positional future.

Coach Daryl Gibson said on Monday that Folau would remain at 13 until the side’s bye, coming after round seven.

Folau had his best game of the season against the Sharks, with two tries,  and the Wallabies star said the seven-game deadline was a solid marker for now.

“I guess it’s a good challenge to take on,” he said.

“There’s always some good things and some negative things to take out of the game, (and I’m) wanting to look for that perfection I guess.

“I think trying to work towards that seven-game mark is a good point to start for me.”

Israel Folau is making 13 his own. Photo: Getty Images“I’m in that 13 position and really embracing it and there’s obviously a lot of learnings I’m taking on but I’m constantly talking to Daryl and the rest of the coaching staff in terms of little things to improve and I certainly feel confident (in that spot).”

Though he’s spent close to a season playing in the centres at Super Rugby level, Folau said he still felt more at home at fullback.

“I’m a lot more comfortable playing in that 15 but me and Daryl spoke before the season started that we’d reassess things after the first seven games and see how everything’s going.

“I’m just really enjoying the learning of it and just taking things one game at a time and I’m looking forward to another opportunity on the weekend.”

Folau’s replacement, Andrew Kellaway, has been battling a shoulder complaint and did not participate in contact training on Tuesday but is expected to play this weekend.

Kellaway has shown promise at fullback and Folau was full of praise for the 21-year-old.

“He’s probably been one of our most consistent players thus far and I think he’s done a great job,” he said.

“Really playing with a lot of confidence ... I’m excited to see his progression.”

If the next four games prove fruitless for Folau, he would be content to move to fullback, though.

“If I had to to get dropped back in there, it doesn’t make too much of a difference.

“It’s a great thing for me at this time in my career where I’m learning in a position where I’m not all that familiar with.”

Just as Folau’s standout Durban performance last weekend might be the kickstart he needed in 2017 and by the same token, he believes a victory against the Brumbies on Saturday could be the team’s turning point.

“The guys are feeling down after back-to-back losses and it only takes that one win to get ourselves back into it,” - Israel Folau.

“We want to try and be really positive about the whole week.

“It’s exciting when we play against the Brumbies, especially here in front of our home fans is always special.

“It just takes that one game to get everyone back on track and hopefully stay on there, which is what we’re trying to do this weekend."

The Waratahs host the Brumbies on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS an via radio at RUGBY.com.au.

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