Waratahs stay cautious despite a strong start

RUPERT GUINNESS
Last updated 14:55 04/03/2014
Kurtley Beale
Getty Images
FLYING START: Kurtley Beale celebrates his try during the NSW Waratahs' rout of the Queensland Reds in Sydney, the Waratahs' second straight win to start the season.

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Are the Waratahs backs unleashing their attacking plays as confidence grows, or deliberately drip feeding them to keep more hidden for later?

Waratahs fullback Israel Folau, who has scored five of their 10 tries in back-to-back wins from two games so far, says: ''A bit of both really.''

Folau, who bagged two five-pointers in the Waratahs' 32-5 win over the Reds on Saturday, believes the NSW back line's potential is untapped.

But he says that is not only due to their unpredictability from having two playmakers in five eighth Bernard Foley and inside centre Kurtley Beale - and him at No 15; but also to the depth of backs in the NSW squad. Folau believes that depth offers a variety of options and keeps pressure on those who are selected.

Folau says that not only includes centre Rob Horne, halfback Brendan McKibbin and winger Matt Carraro, who were on the bench last Saturday, but also the likes of winger Cam Crawford, centre Jono Lance, and five-eighth Ben Volavola who were not even selected in the 23-man squad.

''We are lucky to have good depth in our team,'' Folau said on Monday after having an X-ray on his right ankle that he rolled soon after returning to the field from the sin bin in the second half of last Saturday's game.

''We can chop and change different players in different positions. We have a lot of great players who haven't had a game this year - that's a good challenge ... wanting to train ... and to make the XV every time.''

Folau, who said he should be fit to play for the Waratahs when they return from their bye round this weekend to face the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday week, would not digress from the mantra of caution maintained by Waratahs coach Michael Cheika - that being, for all in the Waratahs squad to temper any outward satisfaction from having won their first two games of the season.

But when pressed on their state of mind, Folau said: ''As a team we are pretty confident obviously. We know what we can achieve.''

Folau also said he was ''not surprised'' by the Waratahs' success because ''we worked really hard in the off-season ... we have become a lot tighter''.

But then he reminded, as anyone linked with the Waratahs will do these days: ''We enjoyed the win ... [but] we can't get too carried away.

''It's only two games into the season ... We have to take one week at a time.''

As for him backing up with two more tries in last Saturday's game, Folau attributed that to ''just the feel ... I'm starting to get the feel now in the games and just following the ball around'', and of course to his team.

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''It's off the back of a great team performance,'' Folau said.

''Our defence on the weekend really set the platform, which rolled straight into attack.''

Asked what more the Waratahs back line might have in store, Waratahs outside centre Adam Ashley-Cooper said: ''I'm not sure.''

Ashley-Cooper believes that how the back line plays starts with the big Waratahs' forward pack that showed on Saturday they have the grit, grunt, drive and commitment that Cheika wants from them this year - even if the coach is reluctant to laud glowing praise on them just yet.

''We certainly won't be able to fire unless our forwards lay that foundation for us,'' Ashley-Cooper said. ''And for the first two games they have [done that].''

- Sydney Morning Herald

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