Rugby: Israel Folau says smart decision-making key to beating All Blacks

Israel Folau in action during the Rugby World Cup semi final against Argentina last year. Photo / Photosport
Israel Folau in action during the Rugby World Cup semi final against Argentina last year. Photo / Photosport

They are the two dominant football teams of this century, and having played for one and opposed the other, Israel Folau can see uncanny similarities between the All Blacks and the Queensland State of Origin side.

Folau has lined up against the Kiwi world champions on nine occasions in his Test rugby career but tasted victory just once - last year in the first Bledisloe at ANZ Stadium.

The fullback has spoken this week about the pain of never having won the trophy, as so many of his predecessors have also failed to do during a 13-year losing streak, but Folau can also see why.

"Rugby is New Zealand's No.1 sport, I don't know how it operates inside their camp but it's probably similar to the Queensland team," Folau told the Saturday Telegraph.

"In New Zealand, every kid grows up wanting to play for the All Blacks, whereas in Queensland they love their rugby league and every kid wants to play for the Maroons.

"The whole state gets behind them, as New Zealand gets behind the All Blacks."

But just as the NSW side ended Queensland's record-breaking streak in 2014, the Wallabies must find a way to snap the All Blacks' stranglehold on the series since 2002.

"The great thing about the All Blacks is that they are an extremely consistent side, and they've shown that over a long period of time," Folau said.

"But when you hold that benchmark, there is always going to be pressure on you regardless, because you are the benchmark.

"We showed last year that we can do it. It's just a matter of making sure we are smart on the night around our decision-making.

"We have plenty of guys with great skills, it's a matter of getting it right."

The Wallabies pulled off a 27-19 victory in the corresponding match at ANZ Stadium last year, while in 2013 they had a 12-all draw in a match Australia could have easily won.

To keep the All Blacks winless in Sydney for a third consecutive year, Folau says the key will be for his teammates to not drop their heads when the tide turns against them.

"You can't expect a perfect game, we know there will be mistakes, we know there will be things that go against us," Folau said.

"But you've got to be able to brush it off and move on quickly, not dwell on those things.
"If you make a mistake, you move on as quick as you can, and the guys will rally around you to help."

The Wallabies have few backers heading into the 2016 Bledisloe series, having lost the World Cup final to their foes and then three successive Tests to Eddie Jones' England in June.

"The group is relatively positive regardless of what's happened with that England series, the guys have already put that behind us now," Folau said.

"We've been working hard together for a month, we're looking forward to these upcoming games against the All Blacks.

"There is no more motivation needed."

SINCE 2000

Queensland Maroons (State of Origin)

17 series, 12 wins, five losses.

Longest streak: eight

Games won: 28

Games lost: 22

Games drawn: 1

All Blacks (Bledisloe Cup)

16 series, 13 wins, three losses.

Longest streak: 13*

Games won: 30

Games lost: 10

Games drawn: 2


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