Code-hopping Wallaby Israel Folau believes it’s more than just Matt Giteau’s close-cropped haircut that reminds him of rugby league legend Darren Lockyer.
Giteau is hoping to revive his international career this Saturday in Australia’s opening Rugby Championship Test against South Africa at Suncorp Stadium.
The 32-year-old hasn’t played for the Wallabies since 2011 when he left to play for French side Toulon but is back with the squad due to new eligibility rules for overseas-based players.
This week’s camp in Brisbane has been Folau’s first experience working with the veteran playmaker and he says there’s plenty about Giteau that resembles the approach of ex-Australian, Queensland State of Origin and Brisbane skipper Lockyer.
“Gits is a very professional player both on and off the field and that’s what I’ve found. He’s great to be around and train with,” Folau said.
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to train with a guy like Gits, whose been around the game for a long time with his experience, and probably reminds me a little bit of the way he goes about his work with Lockyer from my time playing with him at the Broncos.
“Most of the boys really enjoy having him in the squad which is great to see.”
Folau will get another rugby league flashback on Saturday when he runs out to represent Australia at Suncorp Stadium, where he played twice for the Kangaroos.
The 26-year-old’s last two of eight rugby league Tests were played at the venue – a disappointing loss to New Zealand in the 2008 World Cup final and a 38-10 victory over the Kiwis the following year.
Folau has made four of his 29 Wallaby appearances in Brisbane, losing three including a 38-12 humbling to the Springboks in September 2013.
“It’s a great stadium to play at,” Folau said.
“When it’s at full capacity, as a player, it’s huge. You try and draw that energy to use it to your advantage.”