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Give Folau Horne's starting spot, say Tahs greats

Shaping up nicely ... Israel Folau.

Shaping up nicely ... Israel Folau. Photo: Getty Images

NSW should sacrifice Test centre Rob Horne to make room for Israel Folau in the Waratahs starting line-up this season, according to Wallabies greats.

World Cup-winning Australian coach Bob Dwyer and Wallabies and Waratahs legend Mark Ella agreed Horne would be the obvious casualty should Folau continue to impress coach Michael Cheika in the Waratahs' final two trial matches against the Blues and Crusaders over the next 10 days.

The former league and AFL convert scored two tries in his debut in the Waratahs jersey during the province's friendly against the Rebels in Hobart at the weekend.

Ella said Folau was yet to be tested against a quality opposition but Horne, with 14 Test caps to his name, had failed to live up to his potential over the past couple of years and was under pressure. ''He's been under-performing over the last two to three years so I'd have no hesitation putting Israel in front of him,'' Ella said. ''He's had enormous opportunities with the Waratahs and the Wallabies but would I pick [Horne] before Folau? No way. Folau's definitely got more potential than Horne at this stage.''

Horne, 23, overcame a string of injuries in 2011 to turn in one of his most consistent seasons of Super Rugby with the Waratahs last year. He carried the form into the June internationals, starting at outside centre against Wales in all three Test matches, before straining his hamstring in a Shute Shield match for Southern Districts, ending his Wallabies season prematurely.

By all accounts this year should be Horne's season but the arrival of Folau has thrown into doubt all previous conclusions about the formation of the Waratahs' back line.

Cheika has an embarrassment of talent on his books and too few positions; Folau is fitting into a back line that boasts the likes of established Wallabies Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell, Lachie Turner, Berrick Barnes and Horne, as well as young guns Bernard Foley and Tom Kingston.

Dwyer, who coached the Waratahs and oversaw Mat Rogers's transition to rugby from league 11 years ago, said he saw the dilemma as a choice between Horne and Folau.

If Folau was left out of the starting XV, Ashley-Cooper could start at fullback and Horne at outside centre. Ashley-Cooper, an accomplished Test player at wing, outside centre and fullback, would usurp Horne if Folau was started at the back. Foley and Barnes could start at five-eighth and inside centre respectively, while Turner and Kingston could be left to battle for a wing spot alongside Mitchell.

''For me to make rock solid predictions I'd have to be a lot closer to the action but from a distance the pressure is on Rob Horne to cement a spot,'' Dwyer said. ''He hasn't really played his best football for the last couple of years and he really has to show he deserves a starting spot. The easiest team I can find is with Rob Horne on the bench.''

Dwyer, too, reserved his judgment on Folau's prospects with the Waratahs, despite observing pleasing attributes.

''You've really got to form the opinion after [Folau's] done that in the highest quality of game, not in a trial match against the Rebels who, with the greatest respect, are not the best team in the competition,'' he said. ''You've got to also see how he goes when the other team has the ball and when he's under pressure at the back. He's got strength and height which is useful for offloading - as we've seen Sonny Bill Williams do so well - and he has agility, we've seen him spinning out of those tackles.''

Ella said Folau could also work at outside centre if Cheika wanted a safer option early on. ''You've just got to put him in an attacking position, get him involved in the game and see how he develops from there,'' Ella said. ''NSW has had a lot of these [talented] players in the past and they haven't delivered. If Cheika can get them firing he'll be blessed with riches. We all want to see them playing attacking football and that will dictate who Cheika picks [to start].''

Foley appears set to take over the No.10 jersey, a transition Dwyer endorsed - if Barnes was kept at No.12. ''[Foley]'s the sort of player who, if he understands the position and gets lots of second touches, then he could be extremely dangerous with his acceleration and outright pace,'' Dwyer said. ''I'd be trying to make sure I could use him [Foley] that way, he'd be more dangerous than any other player in that role. Berrick Barnes might well be your first-choice goal kicker, in which case he has to start. That puts further pressure on Horne, because Ashley-Cooper is an absolute certainty to be starting.''

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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