Folau still scratching the surface of rugby talent

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Israel Folau has been among the world’s best throughout his rugby career but NSW attack coach Chris Malone says the superstar has weapons that are still yet to be fully realised.

Folau’s aerial skills have always been among his most spectacular but it is only in the past two seasons that the Waratahs and Wallabies have really tried to harness this, with a switch to the wing last weekend only aiding that.

Though he wasn’t taking any credit for the positional move, NSW attack coach Chris Malone was more than satisfied with Folau’s game against the Rebels.

“I think the reality is you could pick him anywhere in the back line and he's probably going to be the best player on the field and I was really pleased for the performance that he had, he embraced the move to the wing and obviously as you saw he was a huge difference in the two teams,” he said.

“The ability to get on the front foot through what he can do in the air was phenomenal.”

Israel Folau flies high at Allianz Stadium. Photo: WalmsleyMalone admitted there was still more in Folau’s arsenal that might not have been maximised in his relatively short rugby career, a sport he only began playing in 2013.

“The great strengths that he has have probably not been used enough over the last five years and we want him to get his hands on the ball,” he said.

“If that's good work inside him and passing it to him or kicking it to him or - there's a number of different ways we can ensure we do that.

“He's a huge threat and he had a good game last week and we'll be looking for him to have another one this week.”

It wasn’t just Folau who enjoyed a positive afternoon the last time the Waratahs ran out - a dominant second half showed fans exactly the type of football they have the potential to play.

That was a display that Malone put down to one key factor, something that he is hoping will again be back in force in Canberra on Saturday night.

“The change was just a little bit of composure,” he said.

“The reality was we'd already created a lot in that game as we have in the games prior to that in the season.

“For us, it's about believing that we're going to get the outcome that we want, we don't have to get it straight away on the first phase every time.

We had a golden patch in the game on the weekend, (but) the Brumbies, they have the best defence in the Australian conference, so you know we're going to have to maintain possession for a lot longer than we have so far.

“I think the belief and the potential in this team, the boys have seen that now, so it'll be our intention to continue to play good rugby, we don't want to stop playing, we're just finding a nice balance there keeping the pressure on the opposition as opposed to ourselves.”

Malone said halfback Nick Phipps was still ‘maybe, maybe not’ going to be back for the round seven match, still recovering from a preseason calf injury.

Jake Gordon should be back in the starting spot, overcoming a concussion.

The Brumbies are expected to name David Pocock to return from a knee injury for the derby.

The Waratahs take on the Brumbies at GIO Stadium on Saturday March 31, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO. Buy tickets here.