Folau threat squarely on Scotland minds

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Scotland attack coach Jason O’Halloran says it will take an entire team effort to quell the impact of Israel Folau on Saturday.

Folau didn't play in last year's World Cup quarter-final between the two teams, missing the match through injury, but the 27-year-old was back to his most influential best against Wales last weekend.

O'Halloran said their focus would be on ensuring their kicking game stops Folau from being the game breaker.

“He’s an outstanding player and I think between him and my mate Hoggy [Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg] it’s going to be a couple of outstanding fullbacks,” he said.

“You’ve got to be very careful how you kick against Australia to give Israel Folau time and space and he can do a lot of damage so the quality of our kicking game’s going to be really important and the quality of our chase and making our one-on-one tackles trying to minimise his impact.

“He’s a fantastic athlete and playing his 50th cap tomorrow he’ll be hugely motivated to play well and he’s come off an outstanding performance last week so it’s a big challenge but we need to face that challenge collectively and try and look after him.”

Hogg said he watched Folau keenly, to pick things up off the Australian 15.

“I’m a big fan of Israel Folau and I look at his games very closely and see what I could learn off him,” he said.

Stuart Hogg will prove an attacking threat. Photo: Getty Images“The aerial skills he’s got – he’s a big fella and he gets up well for the ball, we need to shut him down in attack, so hopefully we can keep him quiet tomorrow or it could be a long day.”

O’Halloran said the weight of possession Australia enjoyed against Wales meant there were few chinks obvious in their armour but their plan to disrupt the Wallabies would begin in the breakdown.

“A key thing of being an attack coach is looking at the opposition and trying to pick out some weaknesses that you might be able to exploit with some of your own strengths That’s the game of chess that is rugby,” he said.

“We’re very respectful of the Wallabies, they look to be a team that’s really coming on and many elements of their game are really strong and you’ve got to be careful with them that you don’t play into areas where [David] Pocock and co get over the ball and stymie your attack.”

“That’s something in the back of your head at all times when you’re planning to play against an opponent like this.”

Australia’s attack coach Stephen Larkham singled out Folau’s opposite number as a major threat for the Wallabies earlier this week, but Hogg said he wasn’t reading much into that.

“I think for me I’ve got to concentrate on doing my job,” he said.

“I’ve got a job to do within the squad to help the team win and that’s the only thing I’m concentrating on now.

“Obviously it’s good that they might target me but I’ve just got to keep the head and go forward.”