One of the boys ... Israel Folau is congratulated by a Waratahs teammate after scoring a try in Saturday's trial match against Blues in Whangarei. Photo: SNPA
WARATAHS coach Michael Cheika refuses to buy into any hype surrounding Israel Folau and is grappling with some early back-line injuries.
Code-hopper Folau played the second half of Saturday's trial against the Blues in Whangarei, scoring a fine individual try and setting up two of winger Tom Kingston's hat-trick of five-pointers in a 40-36 loss.
On the negative side, Bernard Foley (ankle) and Rob Horne (hamstring) joined fellow back Berrick Barnes (knee) on the Waratahs' injury list.
''We've only got a few injuries, but they all seem around that 10, 12 area at the moment, so we've got to be a bit careful there,'' Cheika said.
He said 22-year-old five-eighth Ben Volavola could get more playing time in their final trial, against the Crusaders on Thursday, if Foley wasn't passed fit for the match.
Against the Crusaders, Cheika will start several Wallaby forwards, who haven't played this year.
Cheika said he was looking to play Wallabies utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper at outside-centre, hence Folau might get his wish of settling into the fullback position. Cheika was keeping his options open about the composition of the back three.
''That [fullback] is where he [Folau] has played now, but we've got to be a bit clever around how we look at our back three, also in the way that other teams will watch us,'' Cheika said.
''We want to change a little bit and [we are] trying to keep the opposition guessing a bit, but he's feeling comfortable back there, which is good. In his 40 minutes, he played well. He ran lots of metres with the ball … got lots of touches, he set up a try, he scored one - so he's getting good touches.
''There's still a long way to go, I'm not a believer of the hype.
''I believe in consistent performances. He's had two games, he's played well in both of them.
''I'm not going to build him up there just quite yet. In the same 40 minutes, Tom Kingston scored three tries, so we've got to keep a level head about these things.''
Two other Australian teams suffered losses to New Zealand opposition in trials, with Queensland defeated 20-8 by reigning Super Rugby champions the Chiefs on the Sunshine Coast and the Melbourne Rebels going down 47-45 to the Hurricanes in Geelong.
Western Force had a 46-0 victory over a Tongan XV and Clyde Rathbone got two tries in the Brumbies' 38-7 win over an ACT XV.
In the opening Super Rugby round next weekend, the Rebels host the Force and the Brumbies are home to the Reds, while the Waratahs start with a bye. Wallaby back James O'Connor has declared himself right to play for the Rebels after copping a mouthful of stitches following a boot in the mouth.
The Force will check on captain and breakaway Matt Hodgson, who missed their final trial with a hamstring strain.