Lions Post #1: Who is Israel Folau?

As soon as the Northern Hemisphere hacks land in Australia, they’ll be catching up on their reading, and they will all be experts on Israel Folau. For now, they have no idea who he is, but he’s likely to be a factor in the Lions series – he’s being used shamelessly by the ARU to promote union, and with the Lions on their way, he’ll be on billboards all over west Sydney and beyond. Plus he’s a pretty useful player.

At present, he is a full back or wing – he wants to play 13 if he stays in union, but the Wallabies will probably see him as a wing. He picks good times to come off his wing into the line, has a good step and excellent hands – think Chris Ashton but 6′ 5″, built like Fez and not a swan-diving tool. He started off like as a league fullback, then did a year in AFL – you might be thinking ‘useless bosh merchant’, but he has an excellent kicking game as a result.

Given the capital, both reputational and economic, invested in him, you would be sure he’ll play some involvement in the Lions series if he settles in union – he is reputedly on A$ 700,000 a year, and is being used as a marketing tool in soccer, league and AFL areas. The Waratahs sold 2,000 season tickets the week after he signed on, and he is generating great excitement.

How good is he? In warm-up games, he has scored and created plenty of tries, but his defence looks pretty ropey – his tackling technique is good, and is AFL-esque (very few front-on tackles required) but his positioning is what Gerry might call “decidedly rusty”.

If he picks that up, he’s going to be a real threat – the Wallabies are playing a far less expansive game than they did in 2010/11, and Folau offers try-scoring potential if (again) he settles in the sport. So, one to keep an eye on for the next few months – you’ll be miles ahead of the so-called experts merely by being aware of his existence at this point.

PS when Lesley Vainikolo was fast-tracked into the England team by Stephen Jones, we couldn’t help but chortle at the fact he barely knew the rules. Therefore, it would be remiss of us not to show the below clip – in a pre-season game against the Crusaders, Folau intentially batted the ball out of play in goal, which is allowed in league. Result: penalty try, and his team-mates explaining the rules of union to him (0:26 below). Only one word for that: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHH!!!

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  1. Might want to keep an eye on this Jessie Mogg guy too lads. Looks like he could be in for a big season.

  2. Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

     /  February 26, 2013

    Tahs v Reds he looked good on the ball if a little green.
    However, once the play was past him he walked everywhere. So far he appears a bit lazy but i’m sure Cheika can beat it out of him

  3. Rich

     /  February 26, 2013

    He was a disaster in afl – he only played 12 games and had the worst stats in the entire league. Fact! But fantastic in league. He ll def have to go on the wing, he had a shocker at the weekend, he ll need to adapt quickly tho. Fans rate him from his league games but I ll keep you posted – got a waratahs season ticket. Young fullback Volavola expected to start at 15 next game so expect izzy on wing with Mitchell on the other. Mogg totally outplayed James oconnor at weekend so def agree he ll be in next squad

    • Great stuff Rich. We’ll be relying on you for Floau-related updates.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  February 26, 2013

      Eh, hes just another mercenary. Not even a very good one at that, unlike Karmichael Hunt or MBW he was primarily enticed to switch codes for marketing reasons. Cant see him making the AUS team to play the Lions unless the Aussies are having trouble selling tickets. Especially with all the depth they have at FB like O’Conner, AAC, Mitchell and Beale all players who would walk onto the Lions team.

      • Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

         /  February 26, 2013

        AAC at thirteen for me. Check out @GAGR’s video on who should be there.



    • Chris

       /  February 26, 2013

      Volavola was sensational when he came on against the reds RIch, hopefully he can bring that spark if he starts. Also agree that Mogg played well, I haven’t been impressed with O’Connor, or Beale for that matter, in recent times.

      Izzy was poor on the weekend for sure, I tried to watch him as much as possible of the ball to see his positioning and movement and he was either nervous, lazy, tired, unable to read the game, or a combo of those. Yes he was pants at AFL but he will have picked up a lot of skills he wouldn’t have needed in league, kicking being the most important and I think, over the course of this season, he could develop into a standout player. For reference, in league he made 87 appearances at club level and scored 70 tries so he knows the way to the whitewash if he can learn the game.

  4. Ireland's Answer

     /  February 26, 2013

    Some of the top Aussie journalists seems to think he has zero chance of making it for the Lions matches……..I have been impressed but Gatland would probably target him……….

    Chris Feauai-Sautia anybody ?

    • Beast mode looks the goods… But it’ll be tough to displace AAC and Barnes from the centre. Maybe a pairing with AAC? Big big boy…

      On Folau, he’s got skills but his awareness isn’t quite up to scratch yet. He’s one to watch yes but with Mitchell, Cummins, O’Connor, Feauai-Sautia, Kingston and more there’s a lot of competition for the Wallabies 3…

  5. Michael

     /  February 26, 2013

    Bit off topic, but has anyone any news on the Ulster injury list? I see Paddy Wallace is now out for the season, but are Nick Williams, Johann Muller, Rodger Wilson, Jared Payne, Tommy Bowe, Stephen Ferris, and Paddy McAllister expected back before the Sarries game, and if not, when?

    • zdm

       /  February 27, 2013

      Ferris may be out for the season and I’m almost sure McAllister is also.
      As far as I know, Muller, Bowe and Chris Henry are targetting the Sarries match. Not sure on the others, I though Payne and Williams was due back prior to that but could be wrong.

  6. Rich

     /  February 28, 2013

    Tough on Ulster – have lost a lot of key players in past month – and they don t have the depth to replace. Pretty sure Piennar will be kicking tho……..

    Woc – on the topic of going off topic as this thread undoubtedly has – do we know why SOB is not centrally contracted? Been looking at expiry this summer etc and just wondered why he is not included??

    • Scrumdog

       /  February 28, 2013

      Probably holding out for more loot! Certain he’s not been short of overseas offers!

    • Rich – I think it’s because when he last negotiated he was still only on the cusp of the national team, so he got a Leinster deal. Next time he signs I’m sure it’ll be a national deal.

  7. Rich

     /  March 4, 2013

    cool – makes sense

    Further FYI on Folau – full back again , ball in hand he is getting much better, offloading simliar to SBW, but his positioning is woeful and just looks lost in defense. All the chat at present is around captaincy – if Horwill not fit they want Pocock – but will be a big call as he does nt captain Brumbies. Folau is the no 1 target for all teams that play the tahs – they kick to him, attack him when he is defending short side etc. He is the main strike runner in the backline, AAC not firing at all and Mitchell still getting back into it, so easy to pick on Folau at present but in general, the big names struggling. Will be a lot of new faces playing for Aus in summer i reckon……

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