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Folau is ripe for the picking

Fri, 25 Jan 2013 19:37
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The Waratahs are set to unleash Rugby League convert Israel Folau in their warm-up matches to give him the best chance to hit the ground running in Super Rugby.

The aerial wizard has been the focus of much attention in Sydney after his high profile code-switch, and Waratahs boss Michael Cheika confirmed that he will get a run as an outside back before the first game of the season.

Cheika told AAP: "He needs to play and get used to it like every other player who has come here.

"He comes from a different code or he comes from the academy ... it's the same thing. He's a winger or fullback at this stage.

"He's got a good kick on him ... it's different in rugby though. Not only is it a different ball but there are different situations," he added.

Folau himself is wary of being too ambitious as he makes his way in the 15-man game., and Cheika is intent on giving him as much freedom to express himself as possible.

"We're just looking for him to play his natural attacking game whether it be in the air or on the ground," Cheika said.

Scrumhalf Brendan McKibbin, who established himself in the Waratahs side last season and got a late call-up to the Wallabies' European tour last year, will captain the Waratahs in the first two trials.

Cheika is set to hold his Wallaby stars back until the third warm-up game so that he can take a look at some of the fringe players in the squad.

"Because I don't know the group intimately as far as selection is concerned I think the first one or two (trials) will definitely be big games for some of the players who are looking to secure places," Cheika said.

"There's some players who have been on the fringe here in the past year and then some club players as well who are playing for the possibility of a contract further down the road.

"I'll be looking for them to bring a big intensity ... not just run out and have a go.

"The prime objective is to be ready with a team that's able to beat Queensland in round one," he explained.

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