Sydney - Star fullback Israel Folau will miss Australia's end-of-season tour to Japan and Britain following a long, demanding season, coach Michael Cheika said Sunday.
Folau will play for the Wallabies against the Barbarians on Saturday but that will be his final match for the year, Cheika said in a bid to freshen him up for the 2018 season.
Folau, 28, scored his 12th international try of the season in the Wallabies' 23-18 win over the All Blacks in Brisbane Saturday, having started every Test match this year.
"With Israel, I've decided to play him (against the Barbarians) because I've decided that he won't be going on the tour at the end of the year," Cheika told reporters.
"He had in his contract the ability to take a Japan leg -- if he wanted to -- at the end of this season.
"We discussed it and we thought it might be better for him to have a break and come back fresh next year."
Cheika said he believed Folau would benefit from bypassing Japanese club rugby.
"He's played a lot of footy and he's been doing so well," he said.
"I would prefer him to have that break than to have gone there (Japan) and I think that's a good balance for all of us.
"It's part of building our depth as well. It will get other players to take responsibility without him there.
"It will be good for him and a good opportunity for players in that position to fill some of that space."
He added that the "well-earned breather" would help Folau get back into Super Rugby next year.
"He's been under the microscope every single day since he has come to rugby," he said.
Folau's absence would leave a giant hole to fill at fullback and Cheika said there were a few alternatives with current squad members Karmichael Hunt, Kurtley Beale and Reece Hodge all capable of playing at fullback.