Israel Folau is enjoying his roving commission as Wallabies coach Michael Cheika ponders where to best utilise his attacking trump in Australia’s Rugby Championship opener.
Folau has been a revelation since switching to outside centre for the NSW Waratahs, crossing for eight tries in 10 games to finish as Super Rugby’s leading tryscorer in 2016.
He managed three tries in five matches from fullback, leaving Cheika with a selection conundrum ahead of the Wallabies’ showdown with the All Blacks in Sydney on August 22.
Folau has also proven more destructive in the centres with more tackle busts, line breaks and generally more touches following the transition to the attacking front line.
But Matt Giteau’s strong 2015 World Cup midfield partnership with incumbent Wallabies No.13 Tevita Kuridrani may prompt Cheika to leave Folau in the No.15 jumper, at least for the first Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup clash with the world champion All Blacks at ANZ Stadium.
John Eales Medallist Folau admits he’s enjoying the best of both worlds and is happy to play either position.
“It’s a bit of a roaming role at the moment. That’s the way I’ve been playing – attacking at 13 and defending at fullback, which I don’t mind,” Folau told AAP on Wednesday.
“I get to use the skills sets that I have at the back there as well.
“It would be nice to have a set position but I’m really comfortable going back and forth and it just depends on what ‘Cheik’ and the rest of the coaching staff decide is best for the team.”
Either way, the twin pains of missing the Super Rugby finals and finishing on the wrong end of a 3-0 series whitewash against England have left Folau hungry for some redemption against the All Blacks.
“Obviously it was disappointing, the England series,” he said.
“But for most guys it just provides that bit more hunger to want to try and turn things around and do well.
“You don’t really need much motivation when you’re coming up against the All Blacks so the boys will be ready, no doubt.
“We’ve been in camp for two weeks now and it’s good that we get to spend that time together to build things up getting ready for the game.”