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Deans backs Israel Folau's selection at fullback

Folau played against the Rebels in a Super Rugby warm up match

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Article Published: Monday 25 February 2013|

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says that the Waratahs decision to play Israel Folau at fullback against the Reds was "absolutely" the right one.

Code hopper Folau is still learning the game of rugby but Deans says that given playing time he will make a full conversion to rugby union.

Deans said that he would only call Folau up for Wallabies duty if the former NRL and AFL player was playing at the right standard.

The Wallabies coach said that he supported Waratahs coach Michael Cheika's decision on where to play Folau.

"Absolutely. You consider everything as a coach. And it's easy to sit from a distance. It's easy from the grandstand," the Wallabies coach told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"He would have based his decision on a lot of background - of what he had witnessed on the training field, what he had seen on pre-season fixture."

In the pre-season the big question was where the Waratahs would play the former NRL and AFL player and while he only made his Super Rugby debut last weekend he still came in for criticism with his defence and ball handling.

"It was a baptism of fire. It was always going to be. But he is a class footballer," Deans said.

"He will be back, don't worry about that. We anticipated he would come under a fair amount of scrutiny and [the Reds] would want to put him under as much pressure as possible.

"Clearly, he is a bloke who can make things happen. The Reds didn't want to be on the wrong end of that."

The Waratahs play the Rebels at Allianz Stadium on Friday and Cheika has pledged to "invest" in him that could also mean that he is tested in other positions.

"He is a huge talent. He can play fullback. He can play wing. He can play 13," Deans said.

"[Where he plays] . . . those are decisions that Michael will make. And the good thing is that he will be getting experience in game week to week in a cauldron that is clearly getting tougher."

Another selection dilemma for Cheika is that of who to name in his front row after former Waratahs captain came off the bench after half time and the Waratahs set piece instantly improved.

Robinson who is hopeful of facing the Lions later this year said that he made the best of his opportunity after he was overlooked in favour of Jeremy Tilse.

"I think so. I was pretty happy with my performance on the weekend," Robinson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"For any player coming off six or seven weeks of a break and having a shortish style pre-season . . . there are always areas to work on. As a player, I always want to be growing all the time.

Robinson said that him forcing a scrum collapse early in his time reflected his intentions.

"For me it was going on there and doing what I do best," he said.

"I knew the set piece was an area I had to be fairly dominant in. It's good for the team that we got a turn over."

Coach Cheika said that he was pleased with how Robinson played against the Reds.

"He had a lot of good involvements. He worked well in the scrum as well. He has put himself right in the frame for selection this week. I thought he had a good impact on the game when he came on."

Meanwhile Cheika said that Rob Horne's hamstring was "improving well" but he will not be available to play against the Rebels.

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