Stopping Folau: Rebels to copy Reds blueprint
March 1, 2013
Israel Folau remains a point of focus ahead of Super Rugby round three © Getty Images
Melbourne Rebels will copy Queensland Reds' blueprint to shut down Israel Folau in their Super Rugby match against New South Wales Waratahs on Friday night, stand-in skipper James O'Connor has revealed.
Folau, 23, made an inauspicious debut in round two as Queensland stole his time and space with an expertly executed rush defence.
He scored a try but was guilty of several handling errors and dropped off a crucial tackle that led to Dominic Shipperley's opening try.
O'Connor insists the Rebels won't underestimate the former Queensland and Australia rugby league star, but he is confident his side can do a similar job on the rookie fullback.
"Absolutely, he's a massive attacking threat and he's one of their go-to ball carriers," James O'Connor said when asked if the Rebels had focused on shutting down Folau in their preparation.
"We don't want to give away too much but I think the Reds last week did quite nicely.
"He's going to want a big game after last week and I'm sure he's going to be up for it and I'm sure we're going to be up for shutting him down."
O'Connor, who will wear the captain's armband for the first time in Super Rugby, will directly oppose Israel Folau at fullback after fly-half Kurtley Beale was cleared to play despite carrying a shoulder injury.
The skipper played down his personal duel with the NRL and AFL convert.
"You don't really get too many one-on-ones ... I've got a job to do in my team and he's got the same job," O'Connor said.
"Even though we play in the same position, we're probably completely different players in terms of our strengths and weaknesses in what we do on the field."
Beale, who revealed he'll need shoulder surgery before the year is out, backed his good mate Folau to excel in his new code in time.
"I thought he went OK [against the Reds]," Beale said. "Obviously a few people are getting into him about a few dropped balls but he's a professional athlete and everyone has those days. I've been through it before and I'm sure he'll bounce back. Hopefully not tomorrow night but I'm sure he'll bounce back.
"I think he's an incredible athlete and he's got a lot of talent there to be shown ... I'm really looking forward to the challenge and I'm sure we'll be matching up somewhere in the game."
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales were just 13 minutes from a famous victory, but the lessons to be learned in defeat are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic