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Folau's start at fullback right choice, says Deans

Baptism of fire ... Israel Folau has one big match under his belt in Super Rugby.

Baptism of fire ... Israel Folau has one big match under his belt in Super Rugby. Photo: Getty Images

THE decision by the NSW Waratahs to start Israel Folau at fullback against the Queensland Reds last Saturday was "absolutely" the right one, according to Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

While Folau's debut in Super Rugby exposed deficiencies in his game, Deans believes that given time on the paddock he will make a full conversion to rugby union.

That time will be to Deans's benefit. He would only select Folau for the Wallabies if he believes the former NRL and AFL player has developed his game to a sufficient standard.

1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales) Click for more photos

British and Irish Lions Team of the Week - Round 3

Paul Cully selects his Lions team based on performances in the third round of the Six Nations. Photo: AP

Until then, the risk factor with the more game time Folau is given is the Waratahs to handle.

But Deans supported NSW coach Michael Cheika when asked if he had made the right call by starting Folau in last Saturday's loss to the Reds at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

"Absolutely. You consider everything as a coach. And it's easy to sit from a distance. It's easy from the grandstand," the Wallabies coach said on Monday at the Australian Rugby Union's launch of the 100 Day Countdown to the British and Irish Lions tour.

"He would have based his decision on a lot of background – of what he had witnessed on the training field, what he had seen on pre-season fixture."

After the publicity of his switch from NRL to AFL and union, Folau's Super debut was destined to be scrutinised – and it finished with criticism, in particular of his defence and ball handling.

"It was a baptism of fire. It was always going to be. But he is a class footballer," Deans said. "He will be back, don't worry about that. We anticipated he would come under a fair amount of scrutiny and [the Reds] would want to put him under as much pressure as possible. Clearly, he is a bloke who can make things happen. The Reds didn't want to be on the wrong end of that."

Where Folau plays in the Waratahs' first home game against the Melbourne Rebels at Allianz Stadium on Friday night remains to be seen, but Cheika has pledged to "invest" in him.

"He is a huge talent. He can play fullback. He can play wing. He can play 13," Deans said.

"[Where he plays] . . . those are decisions that Michael will make. And the good thing is that he will be getting experience in game week to week in a cauldron that is clearly getting tougher."

It will also be interesting to see how Cheika decides his front row for Friday's game, with former Waratahs captain and dropped Wallabies loose-head prop Benn Robinson having impressed in his time off the bench after half-time. As soon as he came on, the Waratahs' set piece improved.

Robinson, one of many Wallabies with an eye on the Lions tour, feels he made best of the time he had on field after being overlooked in favour of Jeremy Tilse.

"I think so. I was pretty happy with my performance on the weekend," Robinson said Monday. "For any player coming off six or seven weeks of a break and having a shortish style pre-season . . . there are always areas to work on. As a player, I always want to be growing all the time.

Robinson conceded that him forcing a scrum collapse early in his time reflected his intent.

"For me it was going on there and doing what I do best," he said. "I knew the set piece was an area I had to be fairly dominant in. It's good for the team that we got a turn over."

Cheika said he was pleased with how Robinson played. "He had a lot of good involvements. He worked well in the scrum as well. He has put himself right in the frame for selection this week. I thought he had a good impact on the game when he came on."

Rob Horne (hamstring) will still not be available for Friday's game even though Cheika said he was "improving well".

Twitter @rupertguinness

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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
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BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 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
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
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
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29 vs SHA 13 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
CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
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
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
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CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 58 vs RED 17 Report Stats
REB 42 vs BLU 22 Report Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 32 vs SHA 24 Report Stats
FOR 18 vs WAR 11 Report Stats
LIO 28 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 25 vs BRU 24 Report Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 23 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
RED 46 vs REB 29 Report Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 22 vs CHF 18 Report Stats
WAR 33 vs SHA 18 Report Stats
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LIO 20 vs BRU 30 Report Stats
CHT 24 vs HIG 45 Report Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF 34 vs BUL 20 Report Stats
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Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
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FOR 3 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
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STO 31 vs REB 15 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 35 vs HUR 18 Report Stats
BRU 22 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA 25 vs REB 21 Report Stats
HIG 36 vs CHF 9 Report Stats
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STO 42 vs CHT 12 Report Stats
LIO 27 vs WAR 22 Report Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR 56 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
FOR 20 vs BRU 33 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB 21 vs BUL 20 Report Stats
BLU 11 vs CRU 34 Report Stats
RED 3 vs CHF 24 Report Stats
CHT 33 vs WAR 58 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
STO 19 vs LIO 19 Report Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
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REB 11 vs FOR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
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CHF 13 vs HUR 21 Report Stats
WAR 31 vs RED 5 Report Stats
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SHA 34 vs STO 12 Stats
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Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
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Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
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Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
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Team P W L D +/- Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 2 0 170 66
Waratahs 16 11 5 0 96 52
Stormers 16 10 5 1 50 45
Highlanders 16 11 5 0 117 53
Brumbies 16 9 7 0 108 47
Lions 16 9 6 1 -22 42
Chiefs 16 10 6 0 73 48
Bulls 16 7 9 0 9 38
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