Oz slow to warm to Willie

2014-06-24 11:27
Willie le Roux (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – Australians consider Willie le Roux only the fourth best fullback in world rugby at present ... even placing him behind two All Blacks.

That is according to a poll being run in the Sydney Morning Herald (, following the prominence of various No 15s in Test rugby of late.

The newspaper asked the simple question: “Who is the world’s best fullback?”

There have been almost 11,000 respondents thus far, with majority support of 43 percent – perhaps unsurprisingly – going to Wallabies sensation Israel Folau, who helped their 3-0 June series whitewash of France.

Waratahs-based crowd-puller Folau, 25, scored two tries in the 39-13 walloping of the visitors in the final Test last weekend.

Next came New Zealand utility back Ben Smith – he can play at either fullback or outside centre -- with 32 percent, and then another All Black in Israel Dagg (nine percent).

Despite the belief of Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, and supported by Welsh counterpart Warren Gatland, after the first Test against Wales in Durban recently that “Willie is probably the best fullback in the world at the moment”, elusive Cheetahs favourite Le Roux only pulled in eight percent of support.

Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny, who missed the 2-0 series loss in South Africa through injury, got four percent, whilst one percent went to another northern hemisphere No 15, England’s Mike Brown.

There was three percent support for “other”, unnamed fullbacks.

Le Roux had a hand in four of the five tries the Boks registered in the 38-16 first-Test thumping of Wales in Durban, including getting one himself, and also dotted one and set up another for right wing Cornal Hendricks in the far tighter, come-from-behind second Test win in Nelspruit.

Perhaps Australian rugby-lovers have not got to see much of Le Roux in the June window period, given the unfavourable time difference between the countries which means many home Bok Tests are played in the wee hours of the morning Down Under.

They ought to be more “switched on” when the Wallabies and Boks lock horns in the Castle Rugby Championship later in the season (September 6 in Perth and September 27 in Cape Town) and Folau and Le Roux are likely to go head to head in the last line of defence ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    willie le roux  |  rugby

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