Rugby: Folau back for Wallabies

Israel Folau has been named to make his Wallabies return against Argentina – but not in his usual position.

Instead, coach Michael Cheika starts Folau on the right wing for Saturday night’s Rugby Championship clash on the Gold Coast, meaning the in-form Dane Haylett-Petty will remain at fullback.

Folau hasn’t started a Test match on the wing since the 2013 Bledisloe Cup, having worn the No.15 jersey for his past 61 consecutive international appearances.

It’s another selection curve ball from Cheika as he seeks to restore more potency to Australia’s attack after a lean return in terms of points scored across their six outings so far this year.

Cheika still thinks Folau’s best position is at fullback but said Haylett-Petty deserved to remain in the No.15 jersey, and Folau had responded well to the call.

“He’s keen for it … no-one volunteers and tells the coach where they’re going to play. It’s not like (reality television show) X Factor, they can’t vote on it,” Cheika said.

“He’s just keen and excited to be back playing.”

Star flanker David Pocock has also been earmarked for a return to the starting side after missing last week’s win over the Springboks.

Cheika is adamant both Pocock (neck) and Folau (ankle) are fit to play after both were included in his original team to face South Africa only to drop out later.

Adam Coleman, who was also scratched from the Wallabies team on match-day to be with his pregnant partner Tonia, has been named on the bench with Izack Rodda to start alongside Rory Arnold in the second row.

Meanwhile, veteran prop Sekope Kepu has returned to the 23-man squad after surprisingly missing selection last week to replace Tom Robertson.

Cheika has resisted calls to start Taniela Tupou despite his match-turning performance off the bench against the Springboks.

Argentina comfortably beat South Africa at home last month before a spirited showing ended in a 46-24 loss to New Zealand last weekend.

Cheika is well aware of how Los Pumas have improved under his former forwards coach Mario Ledesma.

“I’m a huge fan, always have been. I’ve had a long association with many of their players and (appreciate) the spirit they play rugby in,” he said.

WALLABIES: Dane Haylett-Petty, Israel Folau, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Matt Toomua, Kurtley Beale, Will Genia, David Pocock, Michael Hooper (capt), Lukhan Tui, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio. Reserves: Folau Faingaa, Sekope Kepu, Taniela Tupou, Adam Coleman, Pete Samu, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Jack Maddocks.

-AAP

loading...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *