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The British & Irish Lions


Deans sings Folau's praises

20th June 2013 11:17


Israel Folau Australia training 2013

Israel Folau: Set for his Test debut

Wallabies boss Robbie Deans believes Israel Folau will shine when he makes his Test debut against the British and Irish Lions in Brisbane on Saturday.

Deans said Folau - who has impressed at full-back for the Waratahs - is a player who can make things happen after selecting him as one of three new caps alongside the Brumbies pair of Ben Mowen and Christian Lealiifano.

Deans picked Folau on the wing, aiming to take advantage of the speed and athletic prowess the 24-year-old used to devastating effect in his international rugby league career.

Folau's task will be to mark powerful Welsh speedster George North, who delivered a massive boost to the Lions by convincingly passing a fitness test on his suspect hamstring to be cleared for selection.

"One of the advantages that Israel has is that the Lions have never faced him previously," Deans told a press conference.

"They will have witnessed what he is capable of and they'll be wanting to limit that because he is a bloke that makes things happen when he gets his hands on the ball and it's fully our intent to get the ball in his hands in Saturday's Test."

Folau will become Australia's 47th dual rugby international and he has been picked for the Wallabies after just 14 eye-catching matches in his first season with the Waratahs.

"It's certainly up there with what I've achieved in the past with both rugby league and AFL (Australian Rules)," Folau revealed.

"It is a very exciting time for me. It's a great achievement so I'm looking forward to getting out there on Saturday night.

"He's (North) a quality player and I'm going to have to do my homework on him and I've been doing that these past few weeks. It will be a tough challenge for me but I have to go out there and do my best and try and limit his opportunities."

Deans, who named James O'Connor in just his second game as Wallabies fly-half, said he had no qualms about putting Folau, centre Lealiifano and Mowen, a flanker, in against the Lions in their first Test match.

"Most importantly is that they've earned that right through their play," the coach explained.

"Ben Mowen is a very experienced player at Super Rugby level, he's led, he's equipped and he's ready to go, so I've got no qualms there.

"For Izzy (Folau) it's not really a debut as he's played at international sport before," added Deans, who also described Lealiifano as a "well rounded player, with a huge work rate."