Folau destined for Wallabies centres

Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

Former Wallabies Tim Horan and Phil Kearns have supported Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson’s comments that Israel Folau is destined to play at outside centre for the Wallabies this year.

Speaking on FOX SPORTS’ Rugby 360, Horan said that Dane Haylett Petty’s introduction into Test rugby has given Michael Cheika another option at fullback that can free up Folau to the centres.

“I think now you’ve got an option at fullback, you’ve got Dane Haylett-Petty who can play at fullback, he’s done that very well for the Western Force,” Horan said.

Haylett-Petty started all three Test matches against England. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

Haylett-Petty proved his worth on the wing for the Wallabies during the England series as he was continually named amongst the best performers, and with the likes of Drew Mitchell and Adam Ashley-Cooper set to return to the squad for the Rugby Championship, it will be an intriguing battle to see who will start on the wing on August 20.

The absence of Wallabies utility Kurtley Beale, and injury to Reds dynamo Karmicahel Hunt highlighted the lack of options and strike power within the Wallabies backline this series, and the need to rejig the backline to convert pressure into points.

While Horan admitted skepticism early this year about Folau’s move, he believes Kuridrani is not a definite starter like he once was.

“I’ve never been a huge fan of it (Folau to centres), but Kuridrani hasn’t been playing the best football, certainly through Super Rugby and also Test matches.

Tevita Kuridrani could be under pressure to retain his position in the Wallabies starting XV in August. Photo: Getty Images

Kearns supported Horan’s thoughts, believing Folau in the centres should have happened during the England Series.

“I said at the start of the series that I would’ve loved to have seen Folau at 13, Haylett-Petty at 15 and Reece Hodge on one of the wings,” he said.

“I think that was our best option, albeit, I’m not hanging around the squad everyday like Cheik is and watching them train but just from watching the Super Rugby that’s what I would’ve loved to have seen.

“Those last three games that Israel played 13, he was unbelievable.”

You can watch Rugby 360 at 8pm AEST on Wednesdays, LIVE on FOX SPORTS 2.