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Folau's new tricks delight the Tahs

Date

Brad Walter

Impressive start … Israel Folau takes part in sprint drills during his first training run with the Waratahs at Moore Park on Thursday.

Impressive start … Israel Folau takes part in sprint drills during his first training run with the Waratahs at Moore Park on Thursday. Photo: Anthony Johnson

ALMOST every time he had a break during his first rugby training session, Israel Folau would either bounce the football or kick it for himself, but it is another AFL skill the Waratahs plan to use next season.

''The aerial game in union is not one that is widely exploited and obviously we have got a guy who can catch the ball above his head better than anyone in our game so we'd be foolish not to use that as an attacking weapon,'' Waratahs assistant coach Daryl Gibson said.

The former All Blacks centre was part of the coaching set-up in Christchurch when Sonny Bill Williams played for the Crusaders and he predicted Folau could have a similar impact on the code.

Israel Folau in his first training session with the Waratahs. Click for more photos

Israel Folau's first training run with Waratahs

Tah man ... Israel Folau trains with teammates at NSW Waratahs for the first time. Photo: Anthony Johnson

''Sonny revolutionised our game through offloading and I think Israel has got the potential to do that in the air,'' Gibson said. ''He is a hell of an athlete but I think what he brings to our game is that aerial ability.

''It is a skill in league that is very commonly used - they get into the 22-metre area and put in a kick - but in our game that doesn't happen so much so we need to engineer positions to really utilise that.

''At the Waratahs we are looking for a point of difference and that could be our point of difference.''

Folau's first training run with the Waratahs after spurning a return to the NRL with Parramatta attracted a large media turnout at Moore Park and he looked sharp during the 90-minute ballwork session.

''It was great. It felt great to have a run-around with the boys and get the footy in the hand,'' Folau told Channel Seven. ''I haven't run around like that for a couple of years, so it was exciting.''

Besides his habit of bouncing the ball and the way he occasionally held it, Folau did not look out of place - an outsider without knowledge of his background would have picked him as the squad's most athletic player.

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said Folau had obviously kept himself in good condition during the month his career was in limbo after gaining a release from the remaining two years of his $1.5 million-per-season AFL deal with Greater Western Sydney.

Cheika expects Folau will keep training through the Christmas break but has no concerns about him needing to bulk back up to his former 103 kilogram playing weight in the NRL. ''If he plays in the back three in rugby he is going to do more running than he would if he was playing on the wing or fullback in league because of the off-the-ball stuff, so he will find what he is comfortable with,'' Cheika said.

''All in all, I thought he looked pretty good. He got a few good touches and he knew how to hold his depth to back his natural athletic ability and get around the ball and he didn't look too bad around the ruck area either for the first try.''

Cheika is planning to use Folau on the wing or at fullback, where the kicking game he learnt in AFL will be beneficial to the Waratahs.

''I think signing Israel has certainly lifted the bar for every winger and fullback on our team sheet,'' Gibson said.

''What I am impressed by is that we have got a bloke who has played two different codes coming into rugby who wants to achieve.

''He has some pretty lofty goals and an ambition to play for the Wallabies against the British Lions, so that is great.

Our goal is to help him achieve his and he has already stated what he wants to do and whether he does that will depend on how well we do our job.''

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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
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HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
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RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
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CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
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BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
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Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
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Round 10
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
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SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
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Round 20
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Round 21
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Hurricanes 5 5 0 0 61 22
Brumbies 6 4 2 0 73 20
Stormers 5 4 1 0 33 16
Chiefs 6 4 2 0 36 19
Sharks 6 3 3 0 5 15
Waratahs 5 3 2 0 24 14
Highlanders 5 3 2 0 4 15
Bulls 5 3 2 0 12 14
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