Rugby Championship

Folau set for fullback switch?

2013-08-18 17:40
Israel Folau (Getty Images)
Sydney - Israel Folau could find himself playing at fullback to improve Australia's attacking options and give the Wallabies a better chance of beating New Zealand.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said Sunday he would not rule out moving Folau, who played without threat on the wing in the All Blacks' 47-29 win over Australia in the opening Bledisloe Cup/Rugby Championship match Saturday, to fullback, where he played for the New South Wales Waratahs this Super Rugby season.

McKenzie says "we'll be open-minded about that" concerning a possible position switch for Folau for next Saturday's second test in Wellington, where the Wallabies will try to avoid losing the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup series for the 11th consecutive year.

Former Wallaby Tim Horan said during Saturday's television commentary that Folau had "one of the quietest games I've ever seen from an Australian winger."

McKenzie agreed that the All Blacks might have paid special attention to Folau.

"Well, one way of targeting him is to keep him out of the game," McKenzie told Australian Associated Press. "So it's up to us to find ways to keep him in the game."

A former rugby league international, Folau was named Australia's Super Rugby rookie of the year after his debut rugby season at fullback for the Waratahs, while test rookie Jesse Mogg had a difficult starting debut in Australia's No. 15 jumper on Saturday.

Moving Folau to fullback would probably require shifting Adam Ashley-Cooper from outside center to the wing.

"He's played most of his rugby league career on the wing," McKenzie said of Folau.

"The fullback bit has been obviously something the Tahs experimented with. We certainly don't rule out that he can play in that position and within a game he can play in that position."

Halfback Will Genia said the Wallabies could still win back the Bledisloe Cup with successive wins over the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time in a single season since 1949.

"I don't feel deflated. Not at all. There's a lot of confidence in the fact that we scored 29 points," Genia said.

"We had a heavy emphasis on attack during the week because we wanted to reinvent and refresh a few new things. We've just got to go away and make sure we work hard because seven days is a long time."

Officials in Wellington plan to carry out a check of the stadium early in the week for Saturday's match to ensure there was no structural damage from last week's earthquake that hit the Wellington area.


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