Rugby: Hopes Folau still has magic touch

By Ben Horne

Queensland put latest Brumbies defeat behind them and focus on vital game against Waratahs.

Israel Folau. Photo / Getty Images
Israel Folau. Photo / Getty Images

In Israel Folau's past life as a Queensland State of Origin powerhouse, Suncorp Stadium was his No1 playground and NSW his favourite plaything.

The tables have turned on his state allegiance, but the Waratahs' prized Super Rugby recruit would like to think his magic touch in Brisbane hasn't left him.

In Folau's latest reincarnation as rugby new boy, he'll find out on Saturday night what it feels like to run into The Cauldron wearing blue.

The try-scoring phenomenon made humiliating NSW a habit between 2008-10 in the rugby league arena, but now he's in charge of leading the state's return from Super 15 oblivion.

Folau is following in the footsteps of Mat Rogers, Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri, who all turned their backs on Queensland to make a name for themselves in Waratahs rugby.

He's just two trial matches into his rugby career following a two-year experiment in the AFL, but already Folau has shown signs of being the most damaging cross-code convert there's been.

Queensland's clash against the 'Tahs is one of two blockbuster Australian Conference derbies this coming weekend, with the flashy Melbourne Rebels to test their credentials at home to the uncompromising Brumbies on Friday night.

If round-one wins to the Rebels and Brumbies were anything to go by, the stakes may have risen in the Australian Conference.

Queensland were shut down 24-6 by the Brumbies in Canberra and slaying Folau and the Waratahs becomes even more vital for the Reds.

"We've already started to work on the Waratahs and that's what you do," said Reds' director of coaching Ewen McKenzie. "You move on and analyse the next team.

"Our challenge next week hasn't really changed.

"As much as you're disappointed you have to be pretty good at flicking the switch and moving on to the next opportunity."

McKenzie was happy with his team's defence and provided that standard is maintained, he's confident Quade Cooper and the rest of his backline will start to flourish.

"You want to get your defence right from day one and then you build your attack," he said.

• The Chiefs beat the Hurricanes 25-21 in a Super Rugby warm-up match held at Mangatainoka on Saturday. The victory means that the defending champion Chiefs have gone through their pre-season without a loss.

Super 15 week one

Canberra
Brumbies 24: Jesse Mogg 2 tries; Nic White 2 pen, Mogg 2 pen, Robbie Coleman con
Reds 6: Mike Harris 2 pen
Halftime: 8-6

Melbourne
Rebels 30: Ged Robinson, Hugh Pyle, Richard Kingi tries; James O'Connor 3 pen 3 con
Force 23: Alfie Mafi 2, Richard Brown tries; Kyle Godwin 2 pen con
Halftime: 10-11.

- AAP


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