Folau finding confidence after June series

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

It was a disappointing team campaign but Wallabies star Israel Folau says he got plenty of confidence out of a strong June series.

Folau was one of the standouts in the 3-0 whitewash, making 366 metres and scoring three tries across the three Tests.

After a Rugby World Cup campaign that he has admitted was a frustrating one, hampered by injury, Folau said he had worked his way back into form in June, but that was just the beginning.

“I was quite happy across the board with my involvement (against England) but you're always wanting to get the ball a lot more than you do,” he said.

“It's always a work in progress and there's never a perfect game. Always want to try and work with the guys around you and that's what I'm trying to do.”

Speculation around Folau’s starting position never seems to fade and the question was raised again on Tuesday, though Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has all but confirmed he will start him at 15.

Israel Folau working hard at training. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika’s backlines tend to take a fluid approach, with Folau switching between 13 in attack and 15 in defence, putting the attacking weapon in the thick of things and he said he would be equally happy chopping and changing as sticking to one spot.

“To be honest, I really enjoy playing both but it's quite nice to know that there's just one role I [will] play,” Folau said.

“If it is fullback then I'm happy to be playing there.

“It's obviously a position I'm very familiar with and I'll go out there and give it my all for the team and that's what it's all about for me.”

In that defensive spot, though, Folau will be a target for the All Blacks, one that they have used to great effect in the past, using high balls and swarming defence to rob him of time and space.

Even with Mick Byrne, the mastermind behind many of those tactics, on the Wallabies side now, Folau said he wouldn’t be able to counteract it easily.

“We can't really do much if the kicks accuracy is right on,” he said.

“My job during that time is to obviously give support and after that if it's a good kick they get time to get defenders right on you.

“They've got some great kickers in their team one right from the base with Aaron Smith, it's going to be a tough job for the guys at the back.

Israel Folau showed some form against England. Photo: Getty ImagesFolau said he hadn’t asked Byrne for any special tips about minimising that danger.

“I haven't asked him about any of that sort of stuff but he's given us some really good feedback as to what we expect them to do,” he said.

“Obviously he's been inside their camp for a long time so he's got a great mindset of how things work out and guys are really keen to learn and listen to what he has to say.”