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Reds on guard for Folau's roaming mission


Jim Morton

''Obviously when he touches the ball, he's pretty handy" ... Ewen McKenzie on Israel Folau.

''Obviously when he touches the ball, he's pretty handy" ... Ewen McKenzie on Israel Folau. Photo: Brendan Esposito

THE Queensland Reds expect former Suncorp Stadium favourite Israel Folau to enjoy a Digby Ioane-like roaming role when he turns into a sky blue villain on Saturday night.

Ex-Queensland State of Origin league star Folau makes an intriguing return to Brisbane's ''Cauldron'' for the Waratahs in Super Rugby's interstate grudge match.

A near-capacity crowd of 50,000 is expected for what will be the 23-year-old's top-flight rugby debut, coming after he left Brisbane and the NRL in 2010 for a failed GWS Giants stint in the AFL.

Already an instant trial hit for the Waratahs, it will be interesting to see what reception Folau receives at Suncorp, even though few expect the same abuse dished out to another former Broncos winger, Wendell Sailor, when he debuted for the Waratahs in 2006. Reds coaching boss Ewen McKenzie is planning to expose the code-jumper but admitted Folau, likely to start at fullback, was a definite dangerman for the Reds to contain.

''Obviously when he touches the ball, he's pretty handy,'' he said. ''He can step off both feet and he looks electric in that sense.

''We'll be making sure if he gets the ball, we won't give him much space. And we'll find other tactics to keep him busy.''

Folau showed his inexperience in the Waratahs' final trial match against the Crusaders by batting a grubber kick over the dead-ball line instead of grounding it, resulting in a penalty.

But while the rugby novice isn't yet up to speed with all the laws, McKenzie believes NSW coach Michael Cheika will ensure he enters the big-stage debut in a relaxed state with a licence to roam.

''He'll play pretty much unencumbered, probably not dissimilar to [Wallabies winger] Digby - with Digby, we just let him play,'' he said.

''We've got plays and moves but Digby roams and that's why he touches the ball more than anybody else in every game and breaks more tackles. Players like that, you want them to touch the ball.''


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Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
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Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
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Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR vs AUS 01:30Twic
USA vs NZL 07:00Soldier Field
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Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
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SCO vs ARG 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
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Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
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ENG vs RSA 01:30Twic
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FRA vs AUS 07:00StdF
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
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