Folau just one part of flexible backline

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wherever Israel Folau plays in June, he will be part of a flexible Wallabies backline.

Folau’s confidence has been boosted in recent weeks with a switch to outside centre yielding his first tries of the season, after a slow start to 2016.

It was belief that the Wallabies fullback desperately needed after a frustrating World Cup campaign, in which he battled with injury and played well below his best.

As well, after three years in the game, Folau said it gave him the feeling that he was beginning to truly understand rugby.

“I think it kind of adds a bit more to my personal game but you know that you feel comfortable not only playing the one position I think,” he said.

“If you look around at most players that play the game that play in the outside back tend to cover a few positions, not only one, so I think it gives you that confidence inside that you know a lot about the game and the real detailed things of playing different positions.”

Folau slots into a backline full of interchangeable players, with Kurtley Beale having played the ultimate utility role last year, Rob Horne showing strength at wing and inside centre and he said it would be critical.

“I guess it just gives us great depth,” he said.

“It covers each other's backs and certainly if there was any injuries going forward you’d have guys there to cover different positions so that’s a good thing about it.

“It adds onto my game. Not only can play fullback, wing but I’ve had some time at outside centre which gives you a lot of confidence if you had to get put in that position.”

His fitness is no longer of any concern, after offseason surgery, and the 27-year-old feels free to play to his strengths.

A feeling of unfinished business will drive him heading into the June series, as he vies to fire on the international stage, against England.

“I think for me looking at the World Cup it was really frustrating because of the injury that I had,” he said.

“Coming into this series now if I'm fit and healthy that’s a big weight off my shoulders compared to last year so I can certainly go into the games feeling free and playing in control of the way I can play.

“On a personal note it was unsatisfying, probably unfinished business.

“I learned a lot from last year but looking forward to the year ahead.”