Waratahs coach Michael Cheika played down the hype surrounding Israel Folau despite the player's exceptional pre-season form.
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has played down the hype surrounding cross-code star Israel Folau despite the player's excellent pre-season.
The former rugby league and Australian rules football player has been a revelation at the 'Tahs.
Over the weekend emerged for a second-half cameo, which saw him cross for a try and set up two more for hat-trick man Tom Kingston.
But with injuries seeing Bernard Foley (ankle) and Rob Horne (hamstring) join fellow back Berrick Barnes (knee) on the treatment table, Chieka felt more concerned about that predicament.
“We've only got a few injuries, but they all seem around that 10, 12 area at the moment, so we've got to be a bit careful there,” he told AAP.
It seems likely that Folau will continue to don the fifteen jersey when the Waratahs' season begins on February 23, with Cheika set to play Adam Ashley-Cooper at outside centre.
“That [fullback] is where he [Folau] has played now, but we've got to be a bit clever around how we look at our back three, also in the way that other teams will watch us,” he added.
“We want to change a little bit and [we are] trying to keep the opposition guessing a bit, but he's feeling comfortable back there, which is good. In his 40 minutes, he played well. He ran lots of metres with the ball – got lots of touches, he set up a try, he scored one – so he's getting good touches.
“There's still a long way to go, I'm not a believer of the hype.
“I believe in consistent performances. He's had two games, he's played well in both of them.
“I'm not going to build him up there just quite yet. In the same 40 minutes, Tom Kingston scored three tries, so we've got to keep a level head about these things.”