Folau could become full-time frontline figure

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Israel Folau could stay in the centres in the long-term, in a move designed to get the Waratahs star more of the ball.

His move to the midfield has been long mooted and Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson anything that can give the two-time John Eales Medallist more ball would be worth trying.

“Certainly  in rugby league, he was a centre and he’s had  that three-year period of watching the game  from behind and he really understands the game now,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity for him to go, ‘Hey, I want some frontline action, I want to be closer to the ball’.

“He’s an excellent ball player, I think that’s an underrated skill right now.”

Opposition sides have figured Folau out this season, keeping the ball out of his hands as much as possible and Gibson said this move would attempt to correct that.

“You need your best players touching the ball,” he said.

“Teams have worked well excellent strategies to keep him away from the ball so for us again we need our best people on the ball and our biggest threats.

“I see him as our biggest threat and ant to try to give him the opportunity to show what he can do.

Israel Folau could move into the centres permanently. Photo: Getty ImagesFolau’s battle with incumbent Wallabies 13 Tevita Kuridrani will show exactly how much work he needs to do to.

Whether we would ever see Folau don the 13 at Test level is something that Gibson said was completely in Wallabies coach Michael Cheika’s court.

“I haven’t (spoken to Michael about it),” he said.

“When Michael was here with the Waratahs we spoke about it at length and how we’d like to do that but at the time (we had) Adam Ashley-Cooper, probably the world’s best centre,” he said.

“It’s just an opportunity that we see for this game and the configurations that we’ve got available to us.

That centre battle won’t be the only intriguing one on Saturday night, with drastic changes for both sides since their first match five

Two relatively new backrow lineups will face off at Allianz Stadium, though both boast a Wallaby in their ranks.

With no David Pocock in the Brumbies side, Jarrad Butler steps into the openside role in his return from injury, while Jordan Smiler replaces Ita Vaea at no. 8

His opposite number, Waratahs captain Michael Hooper, was quick to play down any chink Pocock’s absence might expose in the Brumbies’ armour.

“Like with every seven, it’s a whole team effort,” he said

“Sometimes you’ve got new guys who are just as keen as seasoned campaigners and they have absolute blinders.”

The Waratahs host the Brumbies at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night from 7:40pm AEST, LIVE on FOXSPORTS.