Folau to add playmaking to fullback game

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

Not content with being the most damaging runner in Australian rugby, Waratahs fullback Israel Folau is preparing to take his game to the next level by turning himself into a ball-player in 2014.

Folau is certain to start the Super Rugby season in the No.15, ending any thought the Waratahs might have had to try him in the centres.

With his big frame and unique physical power, Folau proved in his debut season of rugby that he's difficult to stop at the best of times and he's most dangerous with ball in hand.

But by putting defenders in two minds with the threat of a pass when he takes the ball to the line, Folau's influence could take on a whole new dimension.

Folau admits playmaking doesn't come naturally but, for an athlete who has played three football codes at the highest level, the 24-year-old is not too old to be learning new tricks.

"I think I've still got a fair way to go. Last year was my first year in rugby and I was pretty happy with how things turned out,'' Folau told AAP.

"I get another shot at this year to try and improve my game and be a lot more consistent.

"In attack, I can inject myself a little bit more and be a bit more creative and play a ball-playing role, try different things to add to my game.

"Taking it to the line and seeing opportunities, you have to make the most of it.

"I've had to work on it a bit - you watch different players and pick up different things. But as a fullback, you've got to have that as part of your game.''

The only problem the Waratahs face in playing Folau at fullback, is it will prove nearly impossible to fit fellow Wallabies Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley in the starting team - given they'll have to fight it out for the five-eighth role.

But Folau was a revelation at the back last year for Australia under Ewen McKenzie, and the thought is you must play your best player in his best position.

As a result, he'll be handed the keys to the Waratahs' backline but, by incorporating ball-playing into his game, he'll be able to take some pressure off whoever lines up at five-eighth.

Folau and fellow Wallaby Michael Hooper will sit out the Waratahs' opening trial against Melbourne in Albury on Saturday.

- AAP

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