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Rugby | British Lions

Robbie Deans and Israel Folau © Gallo Images

Deans talks up Folau's Lions chances



Coach Robbie Deans on Saturday said rugby league convert Israel Folau could play in a number of positions in the Wallabies backline against the touring British and Irish Lions this year.

Folau, who was included in a preliminary 30-man Wallabies squad ahead of the June series with the Lions, was man of the match in the Waratahs 25-20 win over defending Super Rugby champions Chiefs in Sydney on Friday.

The athletic utility back capped his all-round display by leaping high to take a crossfield kick from Bernard Foley and score a try, also making a couple of crucial tackles to impress Deans.

"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 Australian Associated Press.

"You can use it as an attacking strategy, but defensively he (also) diffuses bombs."

The former Kangaroos winger has been excelling at fullback in his debut season for the Waratahs, but Deans said Folau's long-term role in rugby 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'll come to gain a greater understanding of the game dynamics than he may have done playing on the wing all the time."

Deans will finalise a 31-man test squad on June 11 ahead of the three tests against the Lions from June 22 to July 6.

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