Israel Folau not ready for Tests - Jake White
May 3, 2013
Robbie Deans said Israel Folau had potential to be "an absolute legend" in rugby © Getty Images
Rugby World Cup-winning coach Jake White has questioned Israel Folau's Wallabies ambitions, saying his prospective selection against the British & Irish Lions would be an indictment on the Australian jumper.
Folau has rocketed into contention the three-Test series against the Lions despite playing just nine Super Rugby games for New South Wales Waratahs, the former rugby league and AFL player impressing many experts - including White - with his adjustment to life in the 15-man code. But the Brumbies coach wants Folau to commit to rugby long-term and says the 24-year-old has not played enough rugby to warrant Test selection.
"The concern is if you've only played 10 games and become a Wallaby, for me it's a bit of an indictment on the jumper," White said on Sky Sports Radio on Friday. "I understand he's a great catch and they want to try and attract him marketing wise to keep him in rugby football. They [Australian Rugby Union] officials did the same with [league converts] Mat Rogers, Wendall Sailor and Lote Tuqiri, and I understand that with the competition for codes here.
"But he's got to want to play for the Wallabies and be a part of the Wallabies for many, many years if you want to give him a Wallaby jumper. I don't think it would be fair after 10 or 12 games if he ends up playing for Australia. As I said it's a bit of an indictment for Australia."
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans refused on Wednesday to guarantee that Folau would feature in the Lions series, but he said the player had the potential to be an "absolute legend of the game". And the Lions expect to come up against Folau, with coach Warren Gatland suggesting he would be picked for political reasons as well for as his undoubted talent.
White, meanwhile, said that Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg would handle the step up to international rugby, but the timing of selection had to right.
"He will play for Australia, I just don't want to rush him too quickly," White said of Mogg. "At the end of the day it's not about how you play for Australia, it's how many times you play for Australia. If you compare him to the likes of Joe Roff and Chris Latham, which is a massive honour for him, he's got to play 50 or 60 times for Australia not just be a one-hit wonder."
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