Folau not hiding from form frustration

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies fullback Israel Folau feels he’s far from his best, in a season that has been his most challenging in the gold jersey.

In last year’s shortened Rugby Championship, Folau had made 286 metres, beaten 20 defenders and made four linebreaks according to Opta Stats, compared to 165 run metres, six defenders and one linebreak.

“I think, yeah, to date it's probably been the hardest for me personally and I think results are one thing [but] it's not too much for me,” he said.

“In terms of where I want to go personally, it's been challenging, you know.

Israel Folau needs to step out of the shadows. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“I've always wanted to make sure I can reach my full potential and in terms of the games I feel like I haven't had the opportunities to do that.”

While he admitted he was frustrated by his form, Folau said a lot of it was out of his control on the weekend in many ways.

“I think most of it is just the way the game pans out and is played,” he said.

“Different things [determine how] the game pans out, you can't put an actual thing to it but I think that's most of what it comes down to.”

Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani have been sharing the outside centre duties this season. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile a shift to the centres has been touted as an easy fix the 27-year-old is already part of an interchangeable structure, floating between the midfield in attack and fullback in defence and he said he was happy with that.

“We've got Samu [Kerevi] and Tevita [Kuridrani], guys that are playing those positions that are doing a pretty good job,” he said.

“If I have to fill in that place for whatever reason then I'm more than happy to but otherwise I'm pretty comfortable where I'm at playing fullback for the team.”

Folau said rather than a new jersey, he needed to choose when to insert himself in the thick of the action and when to hold back.

“I've just got to keep working away with the playmakers in the team and figure out how to get the ball in a good position,” he said.

Folau has battled for freedom this season. Photo: Getty IMages“I have the license to come in and get in at first receiver or play in around the forwards or stay out wide and try and wait for the ball.

“I have that licence to do that, so I just, I think it's a matter of time, trying to position myself and pick the right times.”

“The game always pans out differently to training so it's different scenarios and situations that you're faced with, it's not always going to be smooth so you've just got to take it as it comes.

“I think it's an ongoing thing but it's something that for me personally I try and set a high standard for myself to be able to try and reach my full potential and it's not always going to go smooth but I've just got to try and take those challenges on as well.

Israel Folau is working on improvement. Photo: Getty Images“It's not going to be, I'm not going to get everything that I want so I just try and make the most of the things that I get.”

Folau is part of a versatile back three, with wingers Dane Haylett-Petty and Reece Hodge both playing out of their regular positions and Folau said the interchangeability of their attack played into their structure.

“I think it gives a lot more depth but we've certainly got the great players in the squad to fill the different positions in the back line, it's no drama.

“I think whoever does play in whatever position they get picked in, the guys are confident that they'll do a really good job.”

The Wallabies host the Pumas on Saturday night at nib Stadium, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST. Buy tickets here.