Israel Folau stars in test debut for Wallabies

LAINE CLARK
Last updated 02:32 23/06/2013
Israel Folau
Getty Images

OVER AGAIN: Israel Folau dives over to score one of his two tries in an impressive but ultimately losing Wallabies debut.

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Is there anything Israel Folau can't do?

Ok, best not to mention AFL.

However, code-hopper Folau silenced any remaining doubters about his rugby potential with his two-try heroics for the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

But not even the former Kangaroo and Greater Western Sydney player could stop Australia from dropping their opening Test against the British and Irish Lions 23-21.

Mind you, he did everything but.

Fast-tracked to Wallabies honours after just 14 Super Rugby games for NSW, the jury was still out on Folau despite his obvious talent.

Not that Giants fans could vouch much for him.

However, Folau looked just as comfortable in his first Wallabies guernsey as he did in his five State of Origin games for Queensland or 38 NRL matches for his once-beloved Brisbane based at Suncorp Stadium.

Lions coach Warren Gatland claimed Folau's match-up with Welsh giant George North would be "worth the fare" of Saturday night's series opener - he wasn't wrong.

The AFL flop proved a huge rugby hit when he crossed in just the 13th minute after Will Genia sparked a superb 80m counter-attack by taking a quick tap and bamboozling the Lions' thin defence, before grubber kicking to the former league international.

No stranger to scoring points, Folau showed he could also save them when he redefined the term sleight of hand in the 34th minute.

After North levelled terms with Folau with a sensational 60m try, he looked to have had a double only to be denied by the Wallaby winger's big mit in the left corner before the Lion's elbow landed on the sideline.

He might be Australia's 47th dual international but Folau looked like one of a kind when he dusted Jonny Sexton and Alex Corbisiero to score his second try before halftime - a movement again sparked by Genia.

Not a bad effort for a NSW Waratahs fullback playing for Australia on the wing.

It was no surprise Folau knew his way to the tryline in Brisbane.

He scored 37 tries in 38 games from the wing for the Broncos during his two seasons with the NRL club.

Perhaps what was the major surprise for some cynics was that Folau was doing more of the same for the Wallabies - just months after many believed he would be running out for a NRL club.

Folau rated the experience bigger than rugby league's Origin.

"To be honest it is on another level," he said.

"It was a great atmosphere and something I had not experienced before."

The quietly spoken Folau not only looked forward to round two with the Lions but also North.

"He's a dangerous player, scored a great try so I will have to try and limit him next week," he said.

Not animated at the best of times, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans almost ditched his poker face when asked about Folau's debut.

"He's got confidence in his ability. He's got physical stature so he is not intimidated," the New Zealander said.

"He's got fast feet, a great offload. He's a talent. We need to utilise him more."

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