Wallabies' Folau finds French flair to his liking

JIM MORTON
Last updated 02:20 06/06/2014
Israel Folau
Getty Images

ISRAEL FOLAU: "I feel a lot more comfortable within the team environment and the combinations we have in the team are working well."

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Israel Folau is predicting the unpredictable on Saturday night from a France outfit he's likened to himself.

Twelve months since his two-try Wallabies debut against the British and Irish Lions, Folau is relishing the prospect of his first taste of French flair.

Suncorp Stadium will again be the location and the code-jumper is ready to carry the momentum of try-scoring records for Australia and the Waratahs into what looms as an entertaining three-Test series.

"I feel a lot more comfortable within the team environment and the combinations we have in the team are working well," he said.

"We're ahead of where we were last year."

After equalling Lote Tuqiri's calendar-year mark of 10 tries at the end of 2013, Folau declared he wanted to take his game to a new level in 2014.

So far, he's delivering. With three Super Rugby rounds to go, the electric fullback has already broken Peter Hewat's NSW season record with 11 from as many games.

Even without an injured Quade Cooper calling the shots, as he did superbly on the European tour, Folau feels Bernard Foley fits like a glove at No.10 and expects Australia's attacking momentum to flow unabated.

Less predictable are the French, who have lived up to expectations by resting captain Thierry Dusautoir due to an arm problem and choosing rusty Frederic Michalak at five-eighth.

"I think there will be a bit of everything really," Folau said. "We've trained all week for the unpredictable.

"Especially in attack; they can throw the ball around, put little chips over the top and grubbers in behind so, defensively, we have to be on to try and stop them."

Studying a team full of players he's hardly seen until doing his video homework this week, Folau particularly warned of bewildering offloads and a laissez faire approach.

"They push things when most players don't think you can do it," he said. "I'm very excited about what they present to us.

"I play a similar style where I like to play my rugby on what unfolds during the game and not too structured."

Although Les Bleus coach Phillipe Saint-Andre has rested giant centre Mathieu Bastareaud following his late arrival from Toulon's Top 14 triumph, the Wallabies believe they will have their hands full with a classy midfield pairing of Wesley Fofana and Gael Fickou.

Wallabies No 12 Matt Toomua rated direct opponent Fofana the top inside centre in world rugby.

"He's set the tone as a 12 at the moment - both he and (All Black) Ma'a Nonu," Toomua said. "I'll have my hands full but I'm definitely looking forward to being tested by the in-form 12 in the world."

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