Folau out of Spring Tour

by Sam Phillips

Israel Folau won't be on the plane to Japan on Tuesday week, with coach Michael Cheika set to rest his star fullback for the remaining Tests of 2017.

Folau will play against the Barbarians on Saturday but that will be his final match for the year, with Cheika telling reporters today of the decision to freshen Folau up for 2018 and beyond.

"With Israel, I've decided to play him because I've decided that he won't be going on the tour at the end of the year," Cheika said.

"He had in his contract the ability to take a Japan leg - if he wanted to - at the end of this season.

"We discussed it and we thought it might be better for him to have a break and come back fresh next year."Folau will play his last game for the Wallabies this year against the Barbarians. Photo: WalmsleyCheika's reasoning was two fold.

"He's played a lot of footy and he's been doing so well.

"I would prefer him to have that break than to have gone there and I think that's a good balance for all of us.

"It's part of building our depth as well.

"It will get other players to take responsibility without him there.

"It will be good for him and a good opportunity for players in that position to fill some of that space."

Cheika said he considered it a win for the Wallabies that Folau will not head to Japan, instead giving him a chance to freshen up.

"He's been under the microscope every single day since he has come to rugby - every single day," he said.

"This will be a chance for him to get out of that for a moment and rest his body, rest his mind, take a well earned breather and then get back into it from day one of Super Rugby next year."

The absence of Folau leaves a huge hole at fullback and Cheika said there were a few choices to be made in that regard, with Karmichael Hunt, Kurtley Beale and Reece Hodge all capable of playing fullback in the current squad.Karmichael Hunt will be front and centre of Cheika's plans in filling Folau's shoes. Photo: Walmsley"I'd have a look at that option," Cheika said of Hunt potentially filling the hole left by Folau.

"We play that sort of hybrid version sometimes where he can attack from the back and defend from the front.

"He brings a big presence there and he's an experienced player, he's got X factor and he will be a player I can consider for that role.

"Especially when we have Beale and Hodge and Samu (Kerevi) who can play in that 12 spot.

"There's a fair few options at fullback so we will see how it pans out when we get to the tour and it will be a good chance for Izzy to take a well earned (break)."