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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Jumper Folau impresses in Waratahs pre-season



Israel Folau has done enough in his first three rugby union matches to suggest a place in the Wallabies side for the British and Irish Lions tour this year is more than just a pipe dream.

The 23-year-old signed for the New South Wales Waratahs in December after a disappointing two years playing in Australian Rules, having previously represented Australia at rugby league.

While the path from Kangaroo to Wallaby has been trod by the likes of Lote Tuqiri, Mat Rogers and Wendell Sailorover the last two decades, Folau has left himself precious little time to impress before the Lions arrive in June.

But playing at fullback and watched by Australia coach Robbie Deans, he needed just three touches in his new code to score his first try and added another in his first match in pre-season against the Melbourne Rebels.

He also got on the scoreboard in his second match with a fine individual effort against the Auckland Blues, also helping to set up two tries for winger Tom Kingston.

Folau again impressed with some barnstorming runs in his third match for the Waratahs against the seven-time Super Rugby champions Canterbury Crusaders in Sydney on Thursday.

"He looked dangerous when he got the ball, which is really good," Waratahs coach Michael Cheika told reporters after the 16-14 defeat to the New Zealanders.

"He had a few good counterattacks. I think we've got to try to get him into the game a bit more from our set-piece. We have to work out how to do that.

"We've got a few ideas on what we can do but all in all his first three games have been very positive for his entry into rugby I'd say. I think everyone would agree."

Standing 195 cm (6ft 5in) tall and weighing in at 98 kg (216 lb), Folau has already shown he has the build, handling skills, power and pace to cause problem for any defence.

While there is a gulf between the provincial rugby pre-season and a test against the Lions, if Folau manages to sustain his form it might be difficult for Deans to ignore such a potent attacking weapon.

The Waratahs get their 2013 Super Rugby campaign underway against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on February 23.

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