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Izzy a Wallaby-in-waiting

Date

Adrian Proszenko

EXCLUSIVE

Centre of attention ... Israel Folau at NSW Waratahs training this week.

Centre of attention ... Israel Folau at NSW Waratahs training this week. Photo: Anthony Johnson

DUAL international Timana Tahu will be ''shocked'' if Israel Folau doesn't become a Wallaby by the end of the year and claims those labelling him a mercenary are jealous of his talent.

Folau fronted for his first training session for the Waratahs during the week after knocking back the chance to join his younger brother John at the Parramatta Eels. The former GWS Giant has maintained his decision wasn't prompted by money, while Fairfax Media revealed the ARU topped up his one-year Waratahs contract with a secret $400,000 payment.

There are obvious parallels with Tahu, who was also courted by both the Eels and the Tahs and enjoyed successful stints with both organisations. The Newcastle Knight believes it won't take long for Folau to follow in his footsteps and represent Australia in both codes.

''Easy. Put it this way - if he doesn't make the Wallabies by the end of the year, I'll be shocked,'' Tahu said. ''He's a confident man and a natural athlete. Good athletes can play any sport and he's one of them. Rugby league, AFL and now playing rugby union for the Tahs, he'll go really good over there. It took me a while to get used to it but he can jump, step - with a bit of coaching of the structural plays, he'll pick it up really quick. He's a big bloke so 12 or 13 is probably his best position. He looks leaner, I saw him on TV the other day and he looks unreal. Especially with all the running he's been doing in the AFL, his fitness won't be an issue.''

Tahu, who also copped criticism for his decision to switch codes in 2008, labelled those giving Folau stick as ''whingers''. ''People who [criticise] are the ones who would like to be in his shoes right now,'' he said. ''All of those people are whingers, a lot of people envy sports people like him. Sport is his job and being a professional athlete is his job. It doesn't matter what code you're in, he's a marketable person.

''The Waratahs will be happy he will help them marketing-wise and he's just a talented player. If he's looking for money, why not? It's hard for a sportsperson to find those sort of figures after rugby or rugby league, so for him to make as much money before he retires from football so that he can look after his family and himself, I'm all for it.'' Folau follows big names including Lote Tuqiri, Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers, Sonny Bill Williams, Craig Gower and Tahu to make the transition to the 15-man game. Tahu believes one advantage for Folau is that, at 23, he has made the switch much earlier than his predecessors.

''He's at a good age and hasn't reached his potential yet,'' he said.

''When I crossed over I was at the peak of my career, so I was lucky to play for the Tahs and the Wallabies.

''It gives him another goal to achieve. He's played well in rugby league so he knows if he comes back to the code he can play the game, but stepping over to rugby union is a new challenge for him.''

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 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
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 02:45Olym
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 02:45Olym
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 07:00Olym
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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