Folau's spectacular debut double
Sat, 02 Feb 2013 11:27
That was what I expected
Rugby League convert Israel Folau has spectacularly celebrated his Super Rugby debut with two tries in the Waratahs' 24-16 pre-season win over the Melbourne Rebels in Hobart on Saturday.
Folau looked a fish back in water as he swerved to beat three Rebels and put the ball down one-handed before wildly celebrating the five-pointer with teammates in the 12th minute of the four-tries-to-two victory at North Hobart Oval.
After the match, Folau said his Rugby Union and Waratahs debut had lived up to his expectations.
"Yes it certainly was [everything I had hoped for], I couldn't ask for a better start to my rugby career," Folau said.
"Now it's done and dusted I've got to look forward to more week.
"It was certainly very enjoyable playing my first rugby game and I can get a lot of confidence out of finishing this game well.
"It was pretty challenging and that was what I expected. I got a bit of everything today [Saturday], I got yellow carded as well, but I'm looking forward to next week.
A former Rugby League international, Folau admitted he had adapted comfortably to the 15-man code.
"It's very similar [to Rugby League] and I've felt very at home since I've joined the club. I've been really relaxed and that's how I felt going into the game.
"I found the positional play really challenging, mainly in defence, and from fullback it's very different to the way a Rugby League fullback plays.
"I've got a to learn a few more things during the week but otherwise I'm pretty happy with how it went.”
The former Rugby League international and AFL marketing tool produced the goods with just his third touch in the 15-man game.
He repeated the dose with the last play of the game, crossing in the left corner while playing outside centre.
He might have had a third try in the 34th minute but unselfishly offloaded for wing and fellow debutant Cam Crawford when Folau could easily have crossed himself.
In an eventful match for the former Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos star, Folau was yellow-carded for a 54th minute breakdown infringement, helping the Rebels score a try through Tom English two minutes later.
Starting at fullback, Folau's kicking game was non-existent as the Waratahs made good on coach Michael Cheika's new attacking mantra.
But he got a feel for his new game with a big tackle on a flying Lachie Mitchell in just the second minute.
Folau had switched to the right wing before he was carded in the second half of the opening trial for both franchises, played in front of 9751 people, and also spent time on the left.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was one interested spectator but was reluctant to single Folau out.
"It's good to see him playing rugby," Deans told reporters.
"He's obviously playing well."
Rebels and Wallabies wing Cooper Vuna briefly sent a scare through his camp when he copped a shoulder knock but it was revealed to be a stinger, and not on his troublesome left joint.
In a four-quarter game, the Rebels led 6-5 at the first break following two penalty goals from James O'Connor.
The Waratahs led 12-11 at halftime after Crawford's second quarter try.
They scored first in the third through Pete Samu for 19-11 before English hit back to make it 19-16.
Folau's 81st minute effort, beating two defenders, capped the Waratahs' win.
For the Rebels:
Tries: Robinson, English
Pens: O'Connor 2
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Folau 2, Crawford, Samu
Cons: McKibben 2
Yellow card: Israel Folau (Waratahs, 54 - repeated breakdown infringements)
FIRST HALF: 15 Alex Rokobaro, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 James O'Connor (captain), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Tim Davidson, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Eddie Aholelei.
SECOND HALF: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Alex Rokobaro, 13 Tom English, 12 Lachie Mitchell, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Trent Dyer, 7 Jarrod Saffy, 6 Cadeyrn Neville, 5 James King, 4 Chris Thomson, 3 Paul Alo-Amile, 2 Pat Leafa/Shota Horie, 1 Nic Henderson (captain).
Waratahs squad: Michael Alaalatoa, Richard Aho, Kotoni Ale, Ollie Atkins, Peter Betham, Wayne Borzak, Tom Carter, Cam Crawford, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Grayson Hart, Michael Hodge, Luke Holmes, Rob Horne, AJ Gilbert, Tom Kingston, Matt Lucas, Brendan McKibbin (captain), Tolu Latu, Dane Maraki, Elijah Niko, Greg Peterson, Jeremy Tilse, Lopeti Timani, Peter Samu, Will Skelton, John Ulugia, Ben Volavola.
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Ed Martin, Richard Goswell
Sopurces: AAP & Waratahs media unit
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