Folau rules out Bledisloe switch to no. 13

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Israel Folau has all but ruled out the chances of a Bledisloe switch to 13, adamant he’ll be wearing the fullback jersey this weekend.

Utility Reece Hodge is widely tipped to step up at outside centre for the Wallabies in the opening Bledisloe after the omission of Curtis Rona but the Rebels back was quick to point to Folau as a possibility when asked on the weekend.

Folau though was positive he’d be playing in the 15 on Saturday night,having trained exclusively in that spot.

The Waratahs and Wallabies back has only started at  fullback for the Wallabies since Michael Cheika took the reins at the end of 2014 and he doesn't expect that to change.

"I've been training at fullback, I haven't been training anywhere else,” he said.

“Obviously whatever decisions Cheik makes in the team, it's what's best for the team but I probably don't see myself playing any other position other than 15."

He was far less committal about the status of his next contract, with the superstar coming off-contract at the end of the season. 

Folau is reportedly after a long-term deal, potentially four years, with negotiations still playing out with Rugby Australia to lock in a new contract.

The 29-year-old gave little indication of the progress of talks on Tuesday, with he and Bernard Foley the two biggest names yet to recommit in 2018.

“It's obviously a process that I'm going through with my management,” he said.

“It's clear I'm off-contract at the end of this year.

“It's something I'm not worried about as a player.

“All the work is going on in and around the background with my management.

“When that time comes, I'll sort it out and make a decision.”

Folau did admit the lure of a second World Cup appearance would prove a major factor in his decision.

“It's obviously enticing with the group that we have here right now,” he said.

“It's no doubt it's something I'll look at as well.”

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper last week signed a record five-year deal to stay in Australia and Folau said he hoped others followed suit.

Long-term deals have been rare in rugby - Lote Tuqiri is the only other Australian to have signed a five-year contract but his was terminated for disciplinary reasons two years in.

“I think you like to hope so (there are more long-term deals),” he said.

“It's a great sign to see someone like Hoops sign on a long-term deal and he's obviously confident within the team going forward what he can see how successful the team can go.

“Hopefully a lot of the guys around him and especially the younger guys can see that and want to get excited about the future and (are) wanting to be here long-term.”

The Wallabies had some extra faces at training on Tuesday as they ramped up their Bledisloe preparation with Waratahs Will MIller, Jed Holloway, Curtis Rona and Alex Newsome and Rebels centre Billy Meakes all running with the group.

The Wallabies host the All Blacks in the first Bledisoe on Saturday August 18, kicking off at 7.45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO, with the Wallaroos taking on the Black Ferns from 5:15pm AEST as well. Buy tickets here.