Rugby: Folau could play anywhere for Wallabies - Deans

Robbie Deans says Israel Folau could bob up almost anywhere in the Wallabies backline, such is the rugby league convert's class and versatility. Photo / Getty Images.
Robbie Deans says Israel Folau could bob up almost anywhere in the Wallabies backline, such is the rugby league convert's class and versatility. Photo / Getty Images.

Robbie Deans says Israel Folau could bob up almost anywhere in the Wallabies backline, such is the rugby league convert's class and versatility.

A week after being included in a preliminary 30-man Wallabies squad ahead of the June series with the British and Irish Lions, Folau vindicated his selection with an eye-catching man-of-the-match display for the NSW Waratahs.

Folau was in everything on Friday night, capping his all-round display by leaping high to reel in a crossfield kick from Bernard Foley to bag a key try in the Waratahs' 25-20 Super Rugby defeat of the defending champion Chiefs at Allianz Stadium.

"His aerial work is remarkable and that's an attribute that we'd love to have in the group because it's a big part of the game now, and it'll be a big part of the Lions' game obviously,'' Deans told AAP.

"You can use it as an attacking strategy but defensively he diffuses bombs, and you've only got to talk to your forward pack to understand the value of that.''

Folau also convinced any doubters with a match-winning defensive effort on the ground, time and again pulling off trysaving plays as the Chiefs pushed hard for a second-half clincher after rallying back from 15-0 down at the break.

The former Kangaroos winger and AFL experiment has been excelling at fullback for the Tahs, but Deans said Folau's long-term role would be "the position he chooses''.

"He could easily come into the front line as well,'' the Wallabies coach said.

"He could easily play outside centre, but his aerial skills are such that you probably want him under that.

"His background is more on the end of the line as a winger but it doesn't concern me watching him play fullback because from fullback he has to consider touch to touch and goal-line to goal-line.

"So he'll come to gain a greater understanding of the game dynamics from fullback than he may have done playing on the wing all the time.

"So it's no loss really and he's showing that he's picking up on the detail.

"Obviously he's got a great capacity to carry the ball but he also works for others well. He'll put others into space and provide opportunities for others, so he brings that with him naturally.''

The Waratahs' third win from their past four starts vaulted them to seventh on the ladder ahead of a two-game assignment in South Africa.

Skipper Dave Dennis admitted victory over the Chiefs had instilled a greater sense of belief in the team ahead of their next clash with the Bulls in Pretoria.

"It gives the boys confidence, a bit of momentum going over to Loftus,'' he said.

"No one has won at Loftus before. It's a great challenge for us. It's a really good week for the boys, having that result and turning up Sunday to the airport will add a different feel to the group.

"There's a good feeling.''

Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell is likely to miss the tour after suffering another hamstring injury against the Chiefs.

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