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Israel Folau has committed to Australian Rugby Union and NSW Waratahs until 2015, setting the dual international up for a potential Rugby World Cup appearance for the Qantas Wallabies.
Australian Rugby Union today announced Folau would continue his journey in Rugby, after his first season with the Waratahs in 2013 culminated in his Test debut for the Wallabies against the British & Irish Lions.
The announcement was made at Fairfield High School in Sydney’s south west, where Folau was attending a NSW Rugby development clinic while on a week-long break from Wallabies duties.
“I’ve had a great experience with the Wallabies,” Folau said.
“We’ve got a young squad and a great coach and we’re building our game. We’re only going to get better.
“The Rugby World Cup is definitely a draw card. To be a part of that would be an awesome experience, but that’s still a long time away and we’ve got a lot to achieve in the meantime.
“I’ve really enjoyed my Rugby experience so far. I’ve had the opportunity to travel and challenge myself all over the world. There’s still a lot I can achieve in Rugby and that really excites me.”
A dual international, Folau joined Rugby Union in 2013 following a stunning career in the National Rugby League from 2007 to 2010, before joining the Australian Football League for two seasons.
In making his Test debut for the Wallabies against the Lions in June, he became the only player in history to successfully compete at the highest level in all three of Australia’s contact football codes.
In his first season of professional Rugby, Folau played 14 games for the Waratahs before being handed his first Wallabies jersey.
He quickly proved his call up was warranted, as the 24-year-old was one of the shining lights of the Wallabies three-Test campaign against the British & Irish Lions, starting in all three matches and scoring two tries on debut.
He has continued his development under new Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie, starting in the first two Tests of The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship against the All Blacks and scored his side’s only try in the most recent outing.
McKenzie said Folau had made the transition to Rugby with surprising ease and that he would continue to develop with more time in the game.
“Every week we’re finding more and more ways to use his unique skills,” McKenzie said.
“There’s unlimited potential, he’s got a lot of really good attributes. He’s enigmatic, he just does things a bit differently and it allows us to use him in different ways.”
“There wasn’t so much a question mark about whether he would be able to make the transition, it was more about how long it would take and he’s certainly done it faster than most.”
Folau is currently a member of the Qantas Wallabies squad for The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship and will join the squad in Brisbane on Sunday, as they prepare for their third match of the tournament.
“We’ve had great support for the Wallabies this year and I hope it continues against South Africa and Argentina,” Folau said.
“It definitely motivates you as a player when you look up and see so much gold in the stands.”
The Qantas Wallabies host the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday 7th September (tickets available at www.ticketek.com.au). They then travel to Perth to face Argentina on Saturday, 14th September (tickets available at www.ticketmaster.com.au).
Other players to re-sign with ARU this year include:
Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Luke Burgess, Dave Dennis, Liam Gill, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Pat McCabe, Ben McCalman, Stephen Moore, Wycliff Palu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Rob Simmons and James Slipper.
Wallaby Number: 867
Test Debut: 2013 v British & Irish Lions, Brisbane
Test Caps: 5
Super Rugby Team: NSW Waratahs 2013-
Representative Honours: Qantas Wallabies 2013-