Foley backs Folau as 13 prospect

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Israel Folau’s 2017 experiment in the NSW 13 jersey didn’t last long but flyhalf Bernard Foley believes the star back could be a long-term solution to fill that hole.

The Wallabies are on the hunt for an outside centre to put his hand up after injuries to Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani ruled them out of Bledisloe contention.

Rebels and Test utility Reece Hodge has been one name thrown in the mix while Waratahs 13 Curtis Rona looms as the front runner for the spot.

Folau had a short-lived stint playing in the 13 jersey for the Waratah in 2017 but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika floated the idea again last week as the Bledisloe preparations began.


He has never played in that jersey in a Test but the 29-year-old at times moves into the spot in attack for the Wallabies.

Foley backed Folau to make a mark at 13 if that’s where he was moved.

“He's a phenomenal player wherever he plays,” he said.

“He's a big body and he's a guy who can get us across the gain line there.

“I'm sure there'll be a number of different scenarios thrown up and izzy one there is definitely a threat and he's a possibility.

“I think naturally he could be a really good long-term 13.”

If Folau was to go to outside centre, the door could open for Dane Haylett-Petty to step in as fullback.

Haylett-Petty is currently working through a knee injury he suffered against the Reds in Super Rugby but is hoping to be fully fit for that Bledisloe opener.

He has exclusively played on the wing for the Wallabies but is an established fullback at Super Rugby level.


Haylett-Petty was in Perth on Monday for the launch of the 2019 Bledisloe Cup match and asked about the switch, he pointed to Rona as a possible replacement.

“First I've heard (about Folau moving to 13) but obviously very disappointing to lose Kerevi and Kuridrani - they're great players but we've got a lot of depth,” he said.

“Curtis Rona (is) another WA product has come through the system and is playing so well at the Waratahs.

“We'll work hard over the next couple of weeks and come game week we'll see what Cheik goes with.

“We've got a lot of depth which is great.

Fans could get their first look at a possible 13 replacement in Friday’s Bledisloe Cup trial match, when the Wallabies take on a mix of Super Rugby and club players at Leichhardt Oval.

None of the Waratahs’ regular Test players will feature but players from all the other Super Rugby franchises will be considered for a Wallabies side and their Super Rugby selection opponents.

Aussie women’s Sevens coach John Manenti is set to unveil his squad on Tuesday morning to take on the Test players.

The Wallabies will play an internal trial on Friday August 3 at 6:45pm AEST at Leichhardt Oval. Entry is FREE for all and the game will be streamed LIVE on RUGBY.com.au.