Fast learner: Israel Folau talks with Quade Cooper at Wallabies training at North Sydney Oval. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Wallabies newcomer Israel Folau must work harder to involve himself off the wing if he is to reach his potential in rugby, according to former Wallabies coach John Connolly.
Folau will start his fourth Test match on the wing, with James O'Connor and Jesse Mogg making up the back three. Debutant Matt Toomua will play at five-eighth, with Christian Lealiifano and Adam Ashley-Cooper in the centres.
Five-eighth Quade Cooper will be named on the bench after being overlooked by his former coach at the Reds for the only Bledisloe Cup match on home soil at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
Eyes front: Israel Folau needs to have more of an impact off the wing. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Connolly believes Folau is the ''best in the world'' one-on-one with the ball but can be shut out of the game too easily.
''He has to work a lot harder off the wing, he's got to learn to go looking for it if it's not coming to him,'' Connolly said. ''He didn't see as much ball in the second Test [against the Lions] because they worked out they could shut him down if they just starved him of it.
''League had an issue with him in terms of working off his wing and looking for the ball as well. No one will beat him in the one-on-one battle, he's the best in the world there, but if [the ball is] not getting out to him he doesn't see it.''
Folau's two-try effort in the Wallabies 23-21 loss to the Lions in June heralded the dual international's arrival at Test level just seven months after switching to the code from a two-season stint in AFL.
A crunching tackle on big Lions winger George North also proved his defensive chops and prompted then-Wallabies coach Robbie Deans to issue a team directive that Folau and the ball meet on the field as often as possible.
''Obviously you want the most damaging blokes getting as many touches as possible. It would be a good outcome,'' Deans said.
But his first Test scorcher gave way to a much quieter, if still polished, performance in the second Test, before a hamstring injury ended his Lions campaign 20 minutes into the final Test.
''If anyone said these will be his results after his first year you would have taken them happily,'' Connolly said.
''It is only his first year in the game so he is obviously growing, but I would like to see him go searching for the ball a great deal more than he has been.''
Connolly, who coached the Wallabies for two years between Eddie Jones and Deans, backed new coach Ewen McKenzie to get his selections and tactics right in the new role but called the selection of debutant Toomua at five-eighth a ''brave-ish call''.
''Toomua has never played with [Will] Genia before but if Christian Lealiifano starts at No.12 that will help him, because Quade Cooper plays a bit flatter,'' he said.
''I wouldn't read too much into the Toomua vs Cooper battle, it will evolve over the season. I expect both of them to get plenty of game time and someone will come out the other end of the season as the Wallabies starting No.10.''
He also rejected the idea of an All Blacks ''aura'' as the Wallabies' chief stumbling block to winning back the Bledisloe Cup.
The Wallabies beat the All Blacks once, at the MCG, under Connolly's rein, and lost to them once on Australian soil and three times in New Zealand. Connolly said they were nothing more than a ''very good team'' and McKenzie's squad was capable of beating them.
''Regardless of their success there is no longer the aura they carried in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. That doesn't mean you don't respect them tremendously but we play these players a lot,'' he said.
''One thing I'm confident that Ewen will do is get his selections and tactics right.''