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Folau eyes Wallabies place through Waratahs

Israel Folau hopes to play for the Wallabies later this year

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Article Published: Wednesday 9 January 2013|

New Waratahs Super Rugby signing Israel Folau says that he would love to be named in the Wallabies squad for the 2013 British and Irish Lions.

While Folau is brimming with confidence at 23 years old and with experience in NRL and AFL he knows he has some way to go before being named in Wallabies coach Robbie Deans' squad.

Folau knows that his first big task is nail down a starting place in the Waratahs starting team.

"Everyone would love to be a part of that big (British and Irish Lions) campaign, but my main focus is to try and get a spot in the team for the Waratahs first," he said.

'Hopefully if I am playing good rugby ... we will see what happens. It would be nice to be a part of it, but I'm not looking that far ahead."

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika believes Folau is making an impressive transition to rugby union after two years with the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

"You watched the training. He didn't look out of place at all," said Cheika of Folau in training.

"He was very heavily involved in the ruck work, and the contact work. He's fitted in beautifully ... His character and personality has been brilliantly integrated into the squad and he has been just another one of the lads, now that hype (of his code switch) has all settled down."

"He ... trained right through the Christmas. He is working really hard to get himself right. With that attitude, he is going to go a long way."

Folau said that one of his biggest challenges since joining rugby in December last year is getting used to repeated knocks and bruising.

"I feel pretty good since I started on day one with all the skills and stuff. (But) my body took a bit of time getting used to all the contact," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I have missed it for a couple of years, just trying to get my body used to the hits again. That probably took a couple of weeks. That wasn't too bad."

"Now I am starting to feel a lot more comfortable in learning the plays and trying to get to play with a lot of the guys I don't really know.

"We have learned a few plays and (there are) not too many to learn which is good. We will probably take a few (new ones) into every game ... we have been taking it pretty slow."

Folau has Tongan heritage so his fellow Tongan members of the Waratahs have been showing him how to follow in their tradition of signalling a "T" for "Team Tonga" when they score tries. "The boys are trying to show me that ... score a try, you do that to the camera," he said.

Former Wallaby and Waratah Lote Tuqiri helped Folau with his move into Rugby Union as it was a move that he had made himself.

"I wanted to talk to Lote when I first announced that I was coming over. I thought it would be good - (based on) his experience (of) leaving the NRL and coming across," he said.

Tuqiri believes that Folau should remain on the wing, or play at fullback before considering a move to inside to the centres and Folau said, "I am pretty open minded to whatever position 'Cheik' wants me to play in the back line, but at the moment I have been training at wing and at fullback.

"I certainly feel comfortable in those positions. I guess it is a different story when it's time to play, but we will see how we go."

Tuqiri also told Folau that he will need to be able to kick from both feet, but said, "It's getting better with both from my experience in AFL."

He also realises "there will be a lot of pressure from the public and other people" on him once he starts playing.

However, he said,"The main thing for me ... when I am really happy that transfers on to the field where I start to play good."

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