Folau fever spreading

If Qantas Wallabies wing sensation Israel Folau was hot-property before his debut on the international rugby union stage against the British & Irish Lions at the weekend, then his two-try, man of the match performance has made him an even bigger attraction. [more]

Folau fever spreading

If Qantas Wallabies wing sensation Israel Folau was hot-property before his debut on the international rugby union stage against the British & Irish Lions at the weekend, then his two-try, man of the match performance has made him an even bigger attraction.

The remarkable 24-year-old former rugby league and Australian Rules star took just 13 minutes to make his mark in rugby union as he sped away for the first of his tries at Suncorp Stadium in the 23-21 defeat to the Lions.

Then he raised the bar even higher with his second strike five minutes before half-time as he sidestepped past Johnny Sexton and sped past Leigh Halfpenny to score again.

So, was the experience of pulling on the Qantas Wallabies jersey and playing in front of a Suncorp Stadium record crowd of 52,499 enough to keep him in rugby union for the foreseeable future and out of the clutches of the host of rugby league clubs hoping to entice him back to the 13-a-side code.

"Tonight was a great atmosphere and something that I've never experienced before. It was awesome and so I look forward to next week,” said Folau, who switched codes from AFL at the start of the season.

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"I've got to say it's probably on another level from the State of Origin games with the fans that the Lions bring over. They're very passionate and there's a lot of noise throughout the game, so it's great.

"I was obviously very happy with my own personal performance, but the result was disappointing so we'll try and turn that around this week. The main thing for me is that I'm really enjoying it and, hopefully, over the next few weeks we'll see how we go."

Lions assistant coach Andy Farrell, himself a high profile convert from rugby league to rugby union in England during his playing days, was hugely impressed with Folau’s contribution

“I told you he was dangerous. He is some talent. He has got brilliant feet and we all know he is very good in the air- he is some threat,” admitted Farrell, who will be working hard on his side’s defence over the next seven days to try to keep him at bay in the second Test in Melbourne.

Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans was also impressed by the way his debutant adapted to playing on rugby union’s international stage after only 14 games with the Waratahs.

"I guess when you're as well equipped as he is he has a lot of confidence in his ability to be able to do the things that he does. He's got a real physical stature so he's not intimidated, he's got fast feet and he's quick and got a great offload,” said Deans.

"When you've got that capacity to play that tends to slow the game down, it slows the defence down because you're conscience of all the options he has and he's very good at taking the options.

"He's a talent and we need to bring him into the game and I assure you he'll have a jersey on next weekend."
 

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