Israel Folau to stick with rugby union
SYDNEY (AP) — Israel Folau has confirmed he’ll stick with rugby union until the next World Cup by extending his contract with the New South Wales Waratahs until 2015.
Folau, a former rugby league international and Australian Rules football player, made the switch to rugby this season and was a standout for the Waratahs at fullback. He was voted rookie of the year among the Australian clubs in Super Rugby.
Folau was selected on the wing for Australia and has scored three tries in five tests against the British and Irish Lions and New Zealand All Blacks.
The Australian Rugby Union announced Thursday that the 24-year-old Folau had signed a new two-year deal with the Waratahs, making him eligible to play in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Australia has won only one of the five tests Folau has played — the Wallabies lost the three-match Lions series 2-1 and have lost the first two matches of the Rugby Championship against the All Blacks, allowing New Zealand to retain the Bledisloe Cup for the 11th consecutive year.
Despite the defeats, Folau said “I’ve had a great experience with the Wallabies.”
“We’ve got a young squad and a great coach and we’re building our game,” he said. “We’re only going to get better.”
New Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said Folau has made a surprisingly easy transition to the 15-man code.
“Every week we’re finding more and more ways to use his unique skills,” McKenzie said. “There’s unlimited potential, he’s got a lot of really good attributes. He’s enigmatic, he just does things a bit differently and it allows us to use him in different ways.”
Folau is expected to be in the lineup when the Wallabies host South Africa on Sept. 7 in Brisbane, hoping to win their first match of the 2013 Rugby Championship. South Africa won its first two matches against Argentina.