ISRAEL Folau experienced it all in his rugby union debut for the Waratahs on Saturday night. He scored two tries, set one up, hurt with his tackles and got yellow carded. But most importantly, Folau gave Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, who was in Hobart to watch the game, every reason to smile.
Deans was typically reluctant to elaborate on his view of Folau’s first professional rugby game against the Melbourne Rebels at North Hobart Stadium that saw NSW win 24-16. But when pressed Deans said: ”He is obviously going well with his involvement. It’s great to see him in union.”
Folau’s yellow card at the 53rd minute was for a breakdown infringement that he seemed not to realise until told twice to leave the field by the referee. As a consequence the Rebels, then 19-11 down, were quick to pounce. Three minutes later centre Tom English scored to put them 19-16 down. But, importantly, when he returned to the play, Folau soon got involved again, rather than go into his shell as some debutants may have.
Even better, Folau scored his second try at the 81st minute when he took the ball while playing in the centres to secure NSW’s win.
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika did not expect Folau’s first game to be fault free but the positives outweighed the negatives in a match that saw him play the first half at full-back and most of the second half – barring spells on both wings and the centres after half-time.
The game might have been a trial, but it didn’t lack passion – and Cheika would have been pleased for that – as a bit of biff and argy bargy between the two forward packs after the re-start following James O’Connor successful penalty kick that took the Rebels to a 3-0 lead in the fourth minute showed.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.