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Folau set to return for Waratahs against Stormers

Waratahs fullback Israel Folau is on track to play Super Rugby again this weekend

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Article Published: Tuesday 1 April 2014|

Waratahs fullback Israel Folau is expected to be back on the Super Rugby field for the New South Wales franchise this weekend against the Stormers in Cape Town.

Folau missed last week's Round 7 Super Rugby clash against the Sharks with a throat injury as he stayed behind in Sydney but has rejoined the squad and has been training with the team.

Folau arrived in South Africa and providing that he suffers no further setbacks he will be named in the starting team later this week.

"I'm feeling pretty good actually. My throat's feeling fine and there's nothing really I'm too worried about," Folau told AAP.

"I'm more than half a chance to play."

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika is normally the first of the Super Rugby coaches to name his team for the weekend but but the high number of niggles picked up by the players who faced the Sharks has forced Cheika to delay naming his team.

"It was a very, very physical encounter," Cheika said.

"We're giving everybody an extra day to get on top things."

There are injury concerns over midfield playmaker Kurtley Beale and No.8 Wycliff Palu and both will be crucial against the Stormers who have only won at home this year.

Beale is suffering from some symptoms of whiplash after he was swung around and thrown to the ground by Sharks back Frans Steyn who was later off-field yellow carded for the incident.

Cheika is almost certain to select Folau but the player will need to pass some strict medical criteria to prove that he is physically ready to face the Stormers.

"He'll have a good hit-out, run hard for a couple of sessions and then we'll talk to the doctor at the end of the day," Cheika said.

"We'll make sure he wakes up the next day all good and then we'll decide from there.

"But if he pulls up well, then that will be a positive sign for the doctor and, as long as he's doing everything with everyone for the week, I think he'll be right."

If Folau does start against the Stormers the are likely to revert to the backline selections that delivered four tries in a bonus point victory over the Rebels in Sydney two weeks ago.

Cheika says that it is unfair to expect Folau - who is Super Rugby's leading try scorer - to slot straight back in the team and turn the Waratahs fortunes around after their disappointing showing in Durban.

"Obviously that type of player is going to make a difference. I'm not naive of that fact," Cheika said.

"But I still think he would have had limited opportunities last week because our attacking ruck wasn't what it should be.

"(Halfback) Nick Phipps was always under pressure. There was always someone in there spoiling his delivery of the ball and, from there, it was always difficult getting any flow in the backs."

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