Brisbane - Israel Folau's stunning rise in his third code is complete, with the
Waratahs fullback set to be named on the right wing against the British
and Irish Lions on Saturday.
Folau will be one of three Wallabies debutants, with
Christian Lealiifano and Brumbies team-mate Ben Mowen also getting the
nod when the side is officially unveiled on Thursday.
Berrick Barnes has been given first crack at the No 15 jersey
to provide voice and direction to the back three. Kurtley Beale's
return to the Wallabies is likely to come from the bench.
The Waratahs' Kane Douglas has nailed down another contentious
position to partner James Horwill in the second row, and Wycliff Palu
has overcome his injury doubts to take his place in the back row
alongside Michael Hooper and Mowen.
The inclusion of Lealiifano ahead of Pat McCabe signals the
Wallabies intent to play with width and pace, while his kicking game
will also alleviate the pressure on No 10 James O'Connor.
But it is the inclusion of Folau after less than one full
season of Super Rugby that will be a major talking point. Just five
months after a tentative Super Rugby debut against the Reds at Suncorp
Stadium, Folau's form and line-breaking ability has made him impossible
to ignore for Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
Folau's diligence in
absorbing information away from the paddock has also impressed the
Wallabies coach, who backs his temperament in the big occasion.
Folau will link with Ioane in potentially devastating combination
down the flanks, providing the Wallabies can win enough ball and secure
quick possession at the breakdown.
Fine weather has increased hopes it
will be a quick game, although some rain is forecast before Saturday.
Douglas has been included to provide more grunt at the scrum,
winning a place ahead of Rob Simmons, while Ben Alexander and Benn
Robinson will bookend Stephen Moore in the set piece.
Moore will also be hoping Mowen's presence at the lineout
will provide the clean ball the backs need, and their understanding will
be critical. Mowen, the leading lineout taker in Super Rugby, will call
Wallabies XV: Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore,
Ben Alexander, James Horwill (captain), Kane Douglas, Ben Mowen, Michael
Hooper, Wycliff Palu,Will Genia, James O'Connor, Digby Ioane, Christian
Lealiifano, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau, Berrick Barnes.